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John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life

ISBN: 9780830878499


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There are many biographies of John Calvin, the theologian—some vilifying him and others extolling his virtues—but few that reveal John Calvin, the man.

Professor and renowned Reformation historian Herman Selderhuis has written John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life to bring Calvin near to the reader, showing him as a man who had an impressive impact on the development of the Western world, but who was first of all a believer struggling with God and with the way God governed both the world and his own life.

Selderhuis draws on Calvin's own commentary on the biblical figures with whom he strongly identified to describe his theology in the context of his personal development. Throughout, we see a person who found himself alone at many of the decisive moments of his life—a fact that echoed through Calvin's subsequent sermons and commentaries. Selderhuis's unique and compelling look at John Calvin, with all of his merits and foibles, ultimately discloses a man who could not find himself at home in the world in which he lived.

  • Offers an alternative approach to Calvin in comparison to standard Calvin biographies
  • Draws correlations between Calvin’s personal development and theology
  • Presents Calvin as a whole person rather than merely a theologian and church leader
Five hundred years after the birth of John Calvin, the reformer of Geneva continues to loom large as one of the most formative figures in Christian history, and one of the most difficult to know up close and personal. Based on a careful reading of Calvin's letters and other sources, Herman Selderhuis presents here a fresh new biography. Calvin emerges as neither hero nor villain, but rather as a flawed and forgiven pilgrim who never lost sight of his final destination and inspired many others along the way. A wonderful introduction to a great teacher of the church!

Timothy George, dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, and general editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture

This is simply one of the best biographies of Calvin I have seen. Selderhuis has managed admirably to combine keen academic insight with a clear, engaging writing style and many delicious details. For all who are curious about Calvin, Selderhuis's John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life is the place to begin.

—Frank A. James III, president, Reformed Theological Seminary

A delightful new biography of Calvin by one of Europe's leading Reformation scholars. Selderhuis does not simply rehash the events of Calvin's life; he weaves those events into a story of a man on a geographical, theological and spiritual pilgrimage—or more precisely, a story of a man on a pilgrimage.

—Lyle D. Bierma, Jean and Kenneth Baker Professor of Systematic Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary

One would think that with all the biographies of John Calvin through the centuries there would be nothing new to say. Think again! Veteran Calvin scholar Herman Selderhuis has followed Calvin himself in going 'back to the sources' and provides a portrait of Calvin drawn exclusively from Calvin's own writings. The result is a fresh and invigorating look at the human person behind all the caricatures, the faithful servant of Christ who saw his life as being lived in the providence of God—a God whose ways he often did not understand. Find here a fully human Calvin whose commitment to the 'pilgrim life' instructs and inspires us still today.

Donald K. McKim, editor of Readings in Calvin's Theology, The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin and Calvin and the Bible

  • Title: John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life
  • Author: Herman J. Selderhuis
  • Publisher: IVP
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 304

Herman J. Selderhuis is professor for church history and church polity at the Theological University Apeldoorn (Netherlands) and director of the university's Institute for Reformation Research. He is a leading Reformation historian and author of several books, including Calvin's Theology of the Psalms.


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  1. Robert J Smith


Digital list price: $22.99
Save $5.00 (21%)