Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cottret's Calvin

He will do no wrong if he selects Bernard Cottret's Calvin: A Biography to get an introduction to John Calvin's life. It is one of the best biographies I have read on Calvin in recent years, better than Bruce Gordon's Calvin which I read a couple of years ago. John Calvin's life more than anyone else has been my inspiration for many years. Not that I see myself anything like this great reformer, but his youth and training mirrored mine in some ways. Calvin was a lawyer and a self-taught theologian.
He was a humanist who mastered the humanities, "liberal arts" of today, church fathers and philosophers, Christian and pagan. I have no hesitation to say that as a work of systematic theology, Calvin's Institutes of Religion has not been surpassed until today and I speak from a measure of experience since my major for my first theological degree was in Systematic theology where I had read Karl Barth among others, but I have always returned to the reformers especially of Calvin's Institutes.


  1. That Calvin's Institutes has not been surpassed by illustrious theologians after half a millennium is indeed high praise, Dr Siew.

  2. Yes, Calvin had a way with words, even in the English translation one can still feel the freshness, clarity and precision of Calvin's formulations, more so of course in French and Latin.


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