Calvin, the Bible, and History

ISBN : 9780190093273

Barbara Pitkin
264 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jul 2020
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John Calvin was known foremost for his powerful impact on the fundamental doctrines of Protestantism, and his biblical interpretation continues to attract interest and inquiry. Calvin, the Bible, and History investigates Calvin's exegesis of the Bible through the lens of one of its most distinctive and distinguishing features: his historicizing approach to scripture. Barbara Pitkin here explores how historical consciousness affected Calvin's interpretation of the Bible, sometimes leading him to unusual, unprecedented, and occasionally controversial exegetical conclusions. Through several case studies, Pitkin explores the multi-faceted ways that historical consciousness was interlinked with Calvin's interpretation of biblical books, authors, and themes, analyzing the centrality of history in his engagement with scripture from the Pentateuch to his reception of the apostle Paul. First establishing the relevant intellectual and cultural contexts, Pitkin situates Calvin's readings within broader cultural trends and historical developments, demonstrating the expansive impact of Calvin's concept of history on his reading of the Bible. Calvin, the Bible, and History reveals the significance of his efforts to relate the biblical past to current historical conditions, reshaping an earlier image of Calvin as a forerunner of modern historical criticism by viewing his deep historical sensibility and distinct interpretive approach within their early modern context.


Chapter 1: John Calvin's Historicizing Interpretation of the Bible
Chapter 2: History Past and History Present in Calvin's Reception of Paul
Chapter 3: Salvation in History in Calvin's Commentary on the Gospel of John
Chapter 4: David, Faith, and the Confusion of History in Calvin's Commentary on the Psalms
Chapter 5: Exile in the Mirror of History in Calvin's Commentary on Isaiah
Chapter 6: Prophecy and History in Calvin's Lectures on Daniel
Chapter 7: Biblical Exegesis and Early Modern Legal History in Calvin's Mosaic Harmony
Chapter 8: The Consolation of History in Calvin's Sermons on Second Samuel
Epilogue: Toward Calvin's Sense of History

About the author: 

Barbara Pitkin is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at Stanford University. Her research focuses on religious thought, biblical exegesis, and views of the past in the early modern period. She is the author of What Pure Eyes Could See: Calvin's Doctrine of Faith in its Exegetical Context.

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