Calvin: A Biography

Calvin: A Biography

Calvin: A Biography

Calvin: A Biography

Synopsis

This sterling biography of Calvin sheds new light on the great Reformer's personality by concentrating on the milieu in which he did his life's work. Cottret examines Calvin's life chronologically and explores the thematic aspects of his persona--Calvin the polemicist, preacher and writer--and looks in greater depth at his foremost work, the "Institutes of the Christian Religion".

Excerpt

For such an high priest [Jesus Christ] became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

HEBREWS 7:26-27

The whole history of Christianity is that of reading. The Bible is the book par excellence, the Book of books, but also a book containing other books, a multiple book. The Bible plays a fundamental role. But divergent readings, differing emphases, and the exclusive endorsement of certain passages produce often-contradictory results. Two books of the Bible played a special role in the reforms of the sixteenth century, the Epistle to the Romans and the Epistle to the Hebrews. Both attributed to Saint Paul, these two apostolic letters express different theologies. (Today scholars agree that the second of these texts is not by the same author.) Romans, meditated on at length by Luther, also gave French evangelism its special themes: justification by faith and the supremacy of grace over law. Rabelais's imaginary Abbey of Thélème is a representation of the chosen society of "free" men, educated and wellborn, who, freed from both want and constraint, can live under the reign of grace. "Do as thou wilt": this anarchical, libertarian advice found its inspiration in Saint Paul. The motto only applies to regenerated humanity, and Calvin never ceased to attack the "spiritual libertinism" that resulted from a too-liberal interpreta-

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