Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Registres Du Consistoire De Geneve Au Temps De Calvin, Tome I (1542-1544)

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Registres Du Consistoire De Geneve Au Temps De Calvin, Tome I (1542-1544)

Article excerpt

Registres du Consistoire de Geneve au temps de Calvin,Tome I (1542-1544). Edited by Thomas A. Lambert and Isabella M. Watt under the direction of Robert M. Kingdon, with assistance from Jeffrey R. Watt. [Travaux d'Humanisme et Renaissance, No. CCCV] (Geneva: Droz.1996. Pp. xli, 441.)

Almost forty years ago, when I began studying the history of Calvin's Geneva, the most valuable scholarly tool of recent vintage was the critical edition of the oldest records of Geneva's Company of Pastors. Its joint editor was a young American, Robert Kingdon. This project, long since "naturalized" by Genevans, has now reached deeply into the seventeenth century. Meanwhile, the indefatigable Kingdon has assembled an international team of assistants in order to launch another ambitious and equally desirable scholarly project; he is now supervising the critical edition of the first twenty registers of Calvin's famous disciplinary institution, the Genevan Consistory.

The history of this peculiar institution, as the lengthy preface to this edition demonstrates, has been bedeviled by two connected problems. The unusually poor handwriting of its first secretary has created a situation whereby for over a century, scholars have studied its workings through a more legible but partial transcript made by a nineteenth-century Genevan, Frederic-Auguste Cramer. However, Cramer's selections cover only about five percent of its operations, and he deliberately selected only its most spectacular cases. A truly random sample would have been less misleading in trying to grasp the achievements and limitations of the first Protestant institution devoted to that essential desideratum of the Reformed or Calvinist tradition, ecclesiastical discipline.This edition permits us, for the first time, to comprehend its earliest workings.

What happened to the unsuspecting Genevans in 1542, when this institution's records begin with its tenth weekly session, can be expressed in terms of twentieth-century German scholarship.They believed they were getting something described by Walther Kohler's Zurcher Ehegericht und Genfer Konsistorium, a new form of Protestant marriage court to replace the local episcopal court or Officialite. …

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