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Life of John Calvin

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  68 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
The first biography of John Calvin since 1975 and the only life of the great reformer to analyse his impact on subsequent generations of theologians, politicians, economists and philosophers. This biography is theologically unbiased and is written as much for historians and general readers as for those interested in Calvin the Church reformer.
Paperback, 358 pages
Published October 1st 1993 by John Wiley & Sons (first published November 1990)
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Jul 22, 2009 Nathaniel rated it really liked it
McGrath is fantastically detailed and does an excellent job of attending to both the historical and systematic elements of Calvin. For example, The chapter he does on Geneva is one of the best I have come across even among strict historical accounts. You can tell that McGrath has spent significant time digesting Calvin.
Jan 22, 2009 Matt rated it did not like it
Not much of a biography, but more of a historical appreciation. McGrath relies on secondary sources to the neglect of primary sources. Calvin comes our looking flat, mean, and boring though brilliant.
Jacob Aitken
Aug 04, 2011 Jacob Aitken rated it really liked it
This book can be easy to criticize if one evaluates it from the standards of "normal biography." Biographically considered, McGrath tells you little of Calvin's lief. Even thematically it can be seen wanting in some areas. However, as a piece of writing dealing with John Calvin it is good enough. I will try to hit the highlights of the biography and offer my own conclusions at the end.

McGrath begins (or ends, I can't remember) his book with a long excursus on the writing of Calvin's Institutes.
Mar 19, 2012 Alexander rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, religion
McGrath's 'biography' of Calvin is an illuminating read, although I am sad to say that I learned much more about such subjects as the 16th century, the effects of Calvinism, and the organization of the French University than I did about Calvin himself. This does not appear to have been McGrath's fault, however, since Calvin was a very private individual who held back his personality whenever possible so as to let the Word of God gain precedence in all he did.

This isn't to say that you don't lear
Lady Jane
Sep 05, 2014 Lady Jane rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those already acquainted with Calvin and Calvinism.
If the subtitle of A Life of John Calvin: A Study in the Shaping of Western Culture doesn't give away that Dr. McGrath, an intellectual historian and theologian, intended to write a historical analysis--not a traditional biography--then reading the Preface perhaps dispels any confusion:

This book is not concerned with praising or condemning Calvin or his cultural legacy, but with establishing the nature and extent of that legacy in the first place. It is an attempt to bring out the vitality of th
Apr 27, 2015 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
The book is excellent and I had a difficult time putting it down. I highly recommend this book and its author.
Si Lee
May 10, 2014 Si Lee rated it liked it
Found this book very dry and boring.
Feb 09, 2016 Joey rated it really liked it
Great insight into Calvin's political and cultural impacts. Also debunks a lot of Calvin myths.
Lindsey Doolan
Jul 22, 2009 Lindsey Doolan rated it liked it
Shelves: history
More like "The beginnings of Calvinism," and pretty dry.
Feb 21, 2009 Michael marked it as to-read
Started to read and will continue at a later date.
Aug 18, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2009
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Alister Edgar McGrath is a Northern Irish theologian, priest, intellectual historian, scientist, and Christian apologist. He currently holds the Andreas Idreos Professorship in Science and Religion in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford, and is Professor of Divinity at Gresham College. He was previously Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King's College L ...more
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