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By Bruce Gordon

Throughout the glory days of the French Renaissance, younger John Calvin (1509-1564) skilled a profound conversion to the religion of the Reformation. For the remainder of his days he lived out the results of that transformation—as exile, encouraged reformer, and finally the dominant determine of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin’s imaginative and prescient of the Christian faith has encouraged many volumes of study, yet this enticing biography examines a impressive existence. Bruce Gordon offers Calvin as a man or woman, a guy straight away extraordinary, smug, charismatic, unforgiving, beneficiant, and shrewd.The e-book explores with specific perception Calvin’s self-conscious view of himself as prophet and apostle for his age and his fight to tame a feeling of his personal superiority, perceived through others as vanity. Gordon seems to be at Calvin’s personality, his maturing imaginative and prescient of God and humanity, his own tragedies and screw ups, his wide relationships with others, and the context in which he wrote and taught. What emerges is a guy who dedicated himself to the Church, inspiring and remodeling the lives of others, particularly those that suffered persecution for his or her spiritual ideals.

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In later years, anyone who dared have his text read by Calvin risked being scolded for wordy prose and poor structure. The manner in which Calvin wrote the commentary is significant. It follows the text of Seneca’s De clementia line by line in an attempt to explicate the mind of the author. Even when highly critical of the loose manner of argumentation, Calvin was adamant that the commentator was obliged to follow the flow of a text. This clearly foreshadows the approach to biblical exegesis outlined in his famous preface to his Romans commentary written in 1539.

What did Calvin make of this text? In truth, he made a great deal on various fronts. In terms of scholarship, it was a golden opportunity to demonstrate the learning acquired both as a student and as a diligent reader of classical and Christian texts. His commentary overflows with etymological and grammatical notes in which he set out his stall as an interpreter. He elucidated approximately fifty rhetorical terms and sought to demonstrate how Seneca’s style was profoundly shaped by the author’s rhetorical intentions.

So what was Calvin doing in Paris? The conversion account mentions that he continued to study, and we must assume that during the summer and autumn of 1533 he was reading the church fathers and contemporary writers while following the lectures of the Collège Royal. 19 Whatever the state of his Christian convictions at this moment, he was clearly committed to the study and teaching of the classics. Martin Luther was certainly among the authors he was reading. From the early 1520s Luther’s works had been circulating in France both in Latin and in translation.

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