Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On Books about Calvin: 2.

Medium-level books on Calvin, for those seeking a little more information than Reymond gives, are legion. I have only listed good books here, and those that have a degree of scholarship.

1. Williston Walker, John Calvin: Revolutionary, Theologian, Pastor (Reprinted Fearn, Christian Focus, 2005). Walker is deeply scholarly and very readable. His work is the first modern English biography of Calvin. He does not avoid the hard facts about Calvin, and is quite willing to criticise the Reformer where he thinks Calvin was in error. Although first published more than a hundred years ago, it is still extremely important, and a good read as well. Although it is a fairly scholarly book, the fact that it was the first modern English biography of Calvin means that it does not assume previous knowledge of Calvin's life. Robert Reymond writes of it: “This biography is truly a classic and quite scholarly.”

2. T.H.L. Parker, John Calvin (Tring, Lion Publishing, 2006). A fuller treatment of Calvin’s life by a scholar second to few in his knowledge of Calvin and his works. Parker devotes a sizable portion of his work to Calvin’s earlier years. He is not afraid to differ from previous writers. This is another book that is a good, solid read. It is not, however, an easy read, and it would be best to read this one after something like Reymond, or even Walker. It demands serious attention from the reader, and won't let you listen to the radio news while reading it. Reymond writes about this book: “In my opinion, this biography of Calvin is one of the best.” Available from Amazon.

Next time: Scholarly Calvin biographies for serious students.

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