John Calvin is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures of the Reformation. His Institutes of the Christian Religion is a monumental work that, for over four centuries, has stood among the greatest works of Christian theology. It has been translated into dozens of languages, and maintained a prominent place in the reading lists of theological students and scholars everywhere. Calvin’s 1536 edition of the Institutes, written in Latin, was the genesis of the work that Calvin began and expanded throughout his life. In 1541, Calvin published a new edition that he translated into French. Both of these editions have been translated into English and collected here, so you can get to know the Institutes and examine the indelible mark they made on Christianity.
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John Calvin (1509–1564), one of the most important thinkers in church history, was a prominent French theologian during the Protestant Reformation and the father of Calvinism. His theological works, biblical commentaries, tracts, treatises, sermons, and letters helped establish the Reformation throughout Europe.
Calvinism has spawned movements and sparked controversy throughout the centuries. Calvin began his work in the church at the age of 12, intending to train for the priesthood. Calvin attended the Collège de la Marche in Paris at 14, before studying law at the University of Orléans and continuing his studies at the University of Bourges.
In 1532, Calvin’s first published work appeared: a commentary on Seneca’s De Clementia. The controversy of calling for reform in the Catholic Church disciplined Calvin in his writing project, and he began working on the first edition of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, which appeared in 1536. Calvin’s Commentaries and The Letters of John Calvin are also influential–both appear in the Calvin 500 Collection (108 vols.).