Review: John Calvin

0664231810T. H. L. Parker is a widely respected authority on the life, ministry, and thought of John Calvin. Parker is the author of numerous books related to Calvin, including, Calvin: An Introduction to His Thought, Calvin’s Preaching, Calvin’s Old Testament Commentaries, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God: Studies in the Theology of John Calvin, and Portrait of Calvin. Parker’s career has in many ways been Calvin-saturated, and the present volume displays this reality extremely well.

John Calvin: A Biography beautifully chaperons the reader from the early years of Calvin’s childhood and youth, all the way unto his anonymous burial in a common cemetery. The roadmap that is traveled between the dates that would have been on Calvin’s tombstone, had he been buried with one, is both exciting and encouraging, and Parker masterfully illustrates the story as would a close friend or family member. The book itself is extremely well-written and easy to digest. Although some historical knowledge about the context is assumed by the author, and, therefore, will lack the needed explanation for some.

The reader will be hard-pressed if tasked the duty of deciding which sections of the book are to be considered most helpful, as Parker does an excellent job throughout. The book is both well documented and thoroughly researched. My only complaint is the utilization of endnotes rather than footnotes. Nevertheless, I think most readers prone to pick up a biography on John Calvin will appreciate the interwoven discussion about the development of the Christianae Religionis Institutio—more commonly known as, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Parker also has an outstanding and informative retelling of the trial and death of Servetus—another event most readers will be eager to engage with concerning John Calvin. Furthermore, Parker has also included two very important appendices dealing with the dating for various events in Calvin’s life and Calvin’s conversion story.

John Calvin: A Biography by T. H. L. Parker is an authoritative, accurate, and informative representation of one of the most influential individuals of all time. Parker has displayed his knowledge of “all-things” Calvin well, and the book reads more like a memoir from a close friend than an interested biographer. While there remains to this day some several hundred biographies about the man John Calvin, few will come as close to the man himself than this. If you are looking for a concise engagement into the life, ministry, and thought of John Calvin, John Calvin: A Biography by T. H. L. Parker should be your first stop. It comes highly recommended!


I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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