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John Calvin--A Biography

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John Calvin was one of the most important leaders of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. In this revision of his major biography, T. H. L. Parker explores Calvin's achievement against the backdrop of the turbulent times in which he lived. With clear and concise explanations of Calvin's theology, analyses of his major works, and insights into his preaching, this d John Calvin was one of the most important leaders of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. In this revision of his major biography, T. H. L. Parker explores Calvin's achievement against the backdrop of the turbulent times in which he lived. With clear and concise explanations of Calvin's theology, analyses of his major works, and insights into his preaching, this definitive biography brings this crucially important reformer and his world to life for readers.


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John Calvin was one of the most important leaders of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. In this revision of his major biography, T. H. L. Parker explores Calvin's achievement against the backdrop of the turbulent times in which he lived. With clear and concise explanations of Calvin's theology, analyses of his major works, and insights into his preaching, this d John Calvin was one of the most important leaders of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. In this revision of his major biography, T. H. L. Parker explores Calvin's achievement against the backdrop of the turbulent times in which he lived. With clear and concise explanations of Calvin's theology, analyses of his major works, and insights into his preaching, this definitive biography brings this crucially important reformer and his world to life for readers.

30 review for John Calvin--A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A poorish biography of a person who was interesting enough to keep me reading until the end. For someone who exercised such a remarkable influence in his time and since, the author gives very little sense of Calvin's character, his voluminous writings (style or content), or his overall philosophy/theology; he provides lots of details about when he was where and who else was there at the time, without giving the reader much guidance on the broader picture. I learned just enough to make me curious A poorish biography of a person who was interesting enough to keep me reading until the end. For someone who exercised such a remarkable influence in his time and since, the author gives very little sense of Calvin's character, his voluminous writings (style or content), or his overall philosophy/theology; he provides lots of details about when he was where and who else was there at the time, without giving the reader much guidance on the broader picture. I learned just enough to make me curious to know more.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter Jones

    A good solid intermediate biography on Calvin. I especially enjoyed the section on Servetus and Calvin's letters. There was at times too much untranslated French and Latin, but other than that a really good book. A good solid intermediate biography on Calvin. I especially enjoyed the section on Servetus and Calvin's letters. There was at times too much untranslated French and Latin, but other than that a really good book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chesna

    It was fine. Mildly full of himself and couldn't be bothered to write with standard, academic gender neutrality in 2006. At times preachy, and the writing style is a bit stilted and off-putting, which is unfortunate for a narrative text. In a biography, I always hope for a sympathetic, intimate portrayal without hero worship. This is admittedly a hard balance to strike, and I shouldn't be surprised that an academic historian asked to fill a gap in the literature didn't get there for me. I wish I It was fine. Mildly full of himself and couldn't be bothered to write with standard, academic gender neutrality in 2006. At times preachy, and the writing style is a bit stilted and off-putting, which is unfortunate for a narrative text. In a biography, I always hope for a sympathetic, intimate portrayal without hero worship. This is admittedly a hard balance to strike, and I shouldn't be surprised that an academic historian asked to fill a gap in the literature didn't get there for me. I wish I could find something better.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Richey

    For the first 50 pages, this book was a 2-star book, but once he dove into Calvin's theology and then his career as a pastor, it became fascinating and enlightening. There are sections of this book that are dull but also much to be recommended. Worth the read. For the first 50 pages, this book was a 2-star book, but once he dove into Calvin's theology and then his career as a pastor, it became fascinating and enlightening. There are sections of this book that are dull but also much to be recommended. Worth the read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Key

    I highly admire Calvin but I did not find the read much interesting.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John Kight

    T. H. L. Parker is a widely respected authority on the life, ministry, and thought of John Calvin. Parker is the author of numerous books related to Calvin, including, Calvin: An Introduction to His Thought, Calvin’s Preaching, Calvin’s Old Testament Commentaries, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God: Studies in the Theology of John Calvin, and Portrait of Calvin. Parker’s career has in many ways been Calvin-saturated, and the present volume displays this reality T. H. L. Parker is a widely respected authority on the life, ministry, and thought of John Calvin. Parker is the author of numerous books related to Calvin, including, Calvin: An Introduction to His Thought, Calvin’s Preaching, Calvin’s Old Testament Commentaries, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God: Studies in the Theology of John Calvin, and Portrait of Calvin. Parker’s career has in many ways been Calvin-saturated, and the present volume displays this reality extremely well. John Calvin: A Biography beautifully chaperons the reader from the early years of Calvin’s childhood and youth, all the way unto his anonymous burial in a common cemetery. The roadmap that is traveled between the dates that would have been on Calvin’s tombstone, had he been buried with one, is both exciting and encouraging, and Parker masterfully illustrates the story as would a close friend or family member. The book itself is extremely well-written and easy to digest. Although some historical knowledge about the context is assumed by the author, and, therefore, will lack the needed explanation for some. The reader will be hard-pressed if tasked the duty of deciding which sections of the book are to be considered most helpful, as Parker does an excellent job throughout. The book is both well documented and thoroughly researched. My only complaint is the utilization of endnotes rather than footnotes. Nevertheless, I think most readers prone to pick up a biography on John Calvin will appreciate the interwoven discussion about the development of the Christianae Religionis Institutio—more commonly known as, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Parker also has an outstanding and informative retelling of the trial and death of Servetus—another event most readers will be eager to engage with concerning John Calvin. Furthermore, Parker has also included two very important appendices dealing with the dating for various events in Calvin’s life and Calvin’s conversion story. John Calvin: A Biography by T. H. L. Parker is an authoritative, accurate, and informative representation of one of the most influential individuals of all time. Parker has displayed his knowledge of “all-things” Calvin well, and the book reads more like a memoir from a close friend than an interested biographer. While there remains to this day some several hundred biographies about the man John Calvin, few will come as close to the man himself than this. If you are looking for a concise engagement into the life, ministry, and thought of John Calvin, John Calvin: A Biography by T. H. L. Parker should be your first stop. It comes highly recommended! I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Glover

    This biography of Calvin is one of those books that I see on my bookshelf and instantly I remember what a joy it was to have been reading it. Honestly, I recall with such fondness reading about the most interesting, often controversial life of the western world's most influential theologian. The book is deep with theological insights, having been written by a previous reader in theology at Durham University and a Calvin scholar, but is not too dense for a quite theologically illiterate layman. I This biography of Calvin is one of those books that I see on my bookshelf and instantly I remember what a joy it was to have been reading it. Honestly, I recall with such fondness reading about the most interesting, often controversial life of the western world's most influential theologian. The book is deep with theological insights, having been written by a previous reader in theology at Durham University and a Calvin scholar, but is not too dense for a quite theologically illiterate layman. I recommend this book enthusiastically for pastor, parishioner, student and scholar: a life full of experience from which all readers may benefit. Read it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Different tone to many other popular biographies -- quite academic. None the less, I really enjoyed the read. I think the objective style is helpful, given that Calvin was and is a controversial figure. A fairly positive picture of Calvin emerges. Most inpsiring personally was Calvin's constant preoccupation with absolute faithfulness to God's Word, disregarding every other authority or influence. I also enjoyed the detailed treatment of Calvin's various writings and his preaching. Different tone to many other popular biographies -- quite academic. None the less, I really enjoyed the read. I think the objective style is helpful, given that Calvin was and is a controversial figure. A fairly positive picture of Calvin emerges. Most inpsiring personally was Calvin's constant preoccupation with absolute faithfulness to God's Word, disregarding every other authority or influence. I also enjoyed the detailed treatment of Calvin's various writings and his preaching.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Very good biography. Explained the relationship between Calvin's thought on systematic theology and Biblical theology. What he thought about and how he used Scripture in preaching, government, and life. Gave a good introduction into the kind of man Calvin was and what the times were like around him so that we see him in his context rather than judging him through the provincial lens of our times. Very good biography. Explained the relationship between Calvin's thought on systematic theology and Biblical theology. What he thought about and how he used Scripture in preaching, government, and life. Gave a good introduction into the kind of man Calvin was and what the times were like around him so that we see him in his context rather than judging him through the provincial lens of our times.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matt Moran

    Just okay. I had expected a deeper understanding of Calvin's character and personality than this book provided. Parker seemed to try to be even-handed and he stays away from making statements about Servetus or the theological debates that people associate with Calvin. What emerges is a sickly, intense man, clinging very tightly to the Word of God. A good deal of untranslated French. Just okay. I had expected a deeper understanding of Calvin's character and personality than this book provided. Parker seemed to try to be even-handed and he stays away from making statements about Servetus or the theological debates that people associate with Calvin. What emerges is a sickly, intense man, clinging very tightly to the Word of God. A good deal of untranslated French.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Even though it was thorough and well-written, I can only give 3/5 stars to this work. Perhaps because it was too thorough. Even details I found to be quite insignificant were examined in their entirety. This book is aimed at the academic and not the casual reader.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lady Jane

    Exhaustively researched and filled with much, detailed information, John Calvin suffers from a writing style that is neither clear nor engaging.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

    Waiting for publication to read sample chapter and reviews.

  14. 4 out of 5

    RA Ratterman

    Overall, a good book for the researcher and enthusiast. Read for personal research - found this book's contents helpful and inspiring - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs. Overall, a good book for the researcher and enthusiast. Read for personal research - found this book's contents helpful and inspiring - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hubany

    more of a textbook, then a proper reader

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    Aside from an annoying use of the present tense, this is an accessible and well-written introduction to Calvin.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Good.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom Bazan

    Parker does a fantastic job of recounting the life of Calvin and intertwining a bit of the theology that resulted. A bit deeper than I expected, but I've got no complaints about that. Parker does a fantastic job of recounting the life of Calvin and intertwining a bit of the theology that resulted. A bit deeper than I expected, but I've got no complaints about that.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Parkinson

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Geer

  21. 4 out of 5

    Travis

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  24. 5 out of 5

    Theodore Zachariades

  25. 4 out of 5

    William Farley

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robert D. Cornwall

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pedro

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim Suffield

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Miller

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kanishka

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