Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Book Review: John Calvin, Pilgrim and Pastor

If I hadn't already mentioned on this blog that I planned to read John Calvin, Pilgrim and Pastor in honor of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, I would not post this review. But I did, so I am.

I was disappointed in the book. I read several positive reviews of it before buying it and can't agree with any of them. I thought it would be an interesting biography of one of the greatest of the Reformers that would place him in the context of that fascinating time, but instead found it was a tedious cut-and-paste review of Calvin's theology and writings.

On the positive side, I did get several lovely naps in while trying to finish reading the book.

I really can't recommend it to anyone but seminary students who are required to read it.

If any of my Gentle Readers can recommend a more interesting biography of Calvin, please do so in the comments.


Elaine said...

That is disappointing. I had also read several reviews of the book and it was in the lineup on the Kindle. Fortunately, I have only downloaded the free sample -- so, I haven't actually paid for it or anything. :)

Norman, Oklahoma

Gannet Girl said...

I did a ton of reading by and on Calvin for an independent study this past spring. I think the books (not straight biographies) I liked best were Paul Chung's Spirituality and Social Ethics in John Calvin and Randall Zachman's Image and Word in the Theology of John Calvin. For more straightforward biographical material I thought Willen van't Spijker's Calvin: A Brief Guide to His Life and Thought and Francois Wendel's Calvin: Origins and Development of His Religious Thoughtwere helpful. Zachman is the best writer of the group (in my opinion which is based on limited experience). If you're interested, you should read Calvin's Intro or Preface to his Commentary on the Psalms,one of the very few places he talks about his own spiritual experience. Happy exploring!

David Walters said...

One of my favorite books on Calvin is John Calvin: The Constructive Revolutionary; His Socio-Economic Impact by Graham, W. Fred. Itis out of print but I found it for sale at bookfinder.com. He tels how a frustrated Calvin got members of the Cosistory of he curch in Geneva elected to the city council when he couldn't them to make repairs to the hospital and offranage.

Christine said...

Try Bruce Gordon's very recent biography of Calvin that Yale Univ. press just published.