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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 eventually 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 awesome lifestyles. Bruce Gordon offers Calvin as a person, a guy instantly excellent, smug, charismatic, unforgiving, beneficiant, and shrewd.The booklet 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 by means of others as conceitedness. Gordon appears 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 committed himself to the Church, inspiring and reworking the lives of others, particularly those that suffered persecution for his or her non secular ideals.

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10 No longer the anguished, despairing wretch, Calvin presents himself as the reluctant servant of God, shy and nervous, sought out by others for his teaching, intentionally evoking images of Moses, David, Jeremiah and Paul. His readership was not meant to miss the connection. The 1557 preface to the psalms commentary was written by a man who regarded himself as a prophet of the Church. The two accounts are not antithetical, revealing some inconsistency in Calvin’s memory, but rather two different ways of expressing the same reality, and this gives us reason to pause and consider what he meant by conversion.

Calvin’s reaction to the death was curiously muted. 1 What accounts for this contrast? His relationship with his father was complex, though not cold. It is entirely possible that Calvin’s emotional bonds lay more with the friends with whom he lived, studied and travelled than with a family he had hardly seen. We cannot dismiss the influence 32 Calvin of the Stoic philosophy of Seneca with which he was engaged; the letter may speak to a stylized role of impassivity as a means of dealing with his loss.

The choice of patron made perfect sense; the de Hangest family had long supported the Cauvins and had financed John’s early education in Paris. 13 This time, however, the relationship proved more complex as the young author, eager to publish his first work, quickly saw that the patronage of de Hangest was insufficient to see the commentary through the press. Calvin was forced to sell off part of his patrimony and to obtain a loan from Nicolas Duchemin. 14 The dedicatory letter of the Seneca commentary reflects a conflicted mind.

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