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John Calvin: A Biography

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  125 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 19th 2007 by Westminster John Knox Press (first published January 1st 1975)
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Apr 01, 2009 Rachel rated it it was ok
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 ...more
John Kight
Jan 23, 2016 John Kight rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Daniel Glover
Jun 08, 2014 Daniel Glover rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 30, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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.
Jan 13, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing
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.
Matt Moran
May 27, 2014 Matt Moran rated it liked it
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.
Peter N.
Aug 30, 2011 Peter N. rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Lady Jane
Exhaustively researched and filled with much, detailed information, John Calvin suffers from a writing style that is neither clear nor engaging.
Royce Ratterman
Mar 30, 2016 Royce Ratterman rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 13, 2014 Ivan rated it really liked it
Aside from an annoying use of the present tense, this is an accessible and well-written introduction to Calvin.
Tom Bazan
Aug 24, 2010 Tom Bazan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: people
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.
Samuel Parkinson
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