Early French Reform: The Theology and Spirituality of Guillaume Farel

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Early French Reform: The Theology and Spirituality of Guillaume Farel. By Jason Zuidema and Theodore Van Raalte. [St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History.] (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. 2011. Pp. viii, 244. $119.95. ISBN 978-1-409-41884-9.)

There is both considerably more and somewhat less to this volume than the title indicates. Most importantly, more than half of the book consists of new English translations of the following early works by Guillaume Farei: Le Pater Noster et le Credo (1524), Le Summaire et briefve declaration . . . (1534), La maniere etfasson. . . (1533), and the appendix to the 1542 edition of the Summaire. These texts are vital for understanding the early development of French Reformed Protestantism. On the other hand, those understandably looking for a survey of the early Francophone Reformation in a book titled Early French Reform will be disappointed; the book is on Farei alone.

Title issues aside, Early French Reform is a welcome addition to the most important trend in Reformed studies in recent decades: the widening of investigations beyond John Calvin himself. Strangely enough, renewed research on Farei, arguably the most significant French reformer before Calvin, has been relatively late in developing. Authors Jason Zuidema and Theodore Van Raalte have teamed up to write essays on Farei 's early theology (Zuidema) and spirituality (Van Raalte) and to translate his most important early works.

The overarching theme of the book is that there was much more to the "fiery Farei" than the popular image of the thundering preacher constantly threatening God's wrath. Zuidema argues that Farei was a competent theologian in his own right and did much to define the French Reformed faith in the days before and even after Calvin's arrival in Geneva in 1536. Zuidema finds the most significant recurring theme in Farel's theology in the clash between the human and divine wills. This dichotomy is reflected by his frequent pitting against one another of the true and the false churches. …