Calvin and His Influence, 1509-2009

ISBN : 9780199751853

Irena Backus; Philip Benedict
368 Pages
162 x 229 mm
Pub date
Sep 2011
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The year 2009 marked Calvin's 500th birthday. This volume collects papers initially written as the plenary addresses for the largest international scholarly conference held in connection with this anniversary, organized in Geneva by the Institute of Reformation History. The organizers chose as theme for the conference "Calvin and His Influence 1509-2009," hoping to stimulate reflection about what Calvin's ideas and example have meant across the five centuries since his lifetime, as well as about how much validity the classic interpretations that have linked his legacy to fundamental features of modernity such as democracy, capitalism, or science still retain. In brief, the story that emerges from the book is as follows: In the generations immediately after Calvin's death, he became an authority whose writings were widely cited by leading "Calvinist" theologians, but he was in fact just one of several Reformed theologians of his generation who were much appreciated by these theologians. In the eighteenth century, his writings began to be far less frequently cited. Even in Reformed circles what was now most frequently recalled was his action during the Servetus affair, so that he now started to be widely criticized in those quarters of the Reformed tradition that were now attached to the idea of toleration or the ideal of a free church. In the nineteenth century, his theology was recovered again in a variety of different contexts, while scholars established the monument to his life and work that was the Opera Calvini and undertook major studies of his life and times. Church movements now claimed the label "Calvinist" for themselves with increasing insistence and pride. (The term had largely been a derogatory label in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.) The movements that identified themselves as Calvinist or were identified as such by contemporaries nonetheless varied considerably in the manner in which they drew upon and understood Calvin's thought. Calvin and His Influence should become the starting point for further scholarly reflection about the history of Calvinism, from its origin to the present.


Irena Backus and Philip Benedict
Chapter One: Calvin:
Fifth Latin Doctor of the Church?
Diarmaid MacCulloch
Chapter Two: The Ideal of Aristocratia Politiae Vicina in the Calvinist Political Tradition
Harro Hopfl
Chapter Three: Calvin the Workaholic
Max Engammare
Chapter Four: Calvin's Self-Awareness as Author
Olivier Millet
Chapter Five: Calvin's Church in Geneva:
Constructed or Gathered? Local or Foreign? French or Swiss?
William Naphy
Chapter Six: Calvin, the Swiss Reformed Churches, and the European Reformation
Emidio Campi
Chapter Seven: Calvin 1509-2009
Herman Selderhuis
Chapter Eight: Calvinism as an Actor in the Early Modern State System around 1600:
Struggle For Alliances
Patterns of Eschatological Interpretation
Symbolic Representation
Heinz Schilling
Chapter Nine: Reception and Response:
Referencing and Understanding Calvin in Seventeenth-Century Calvinism
Richard Muller
Chapter Ten: The Dutch Enlightenment and the Distant Calvin
Ernestine van der Wall
Chapter Eleven: Lost, then Found:
Calvin in French Protestantism, 1830-1940
Andre Encreve
Chapter Twelve: Calvin in the Plural:
The Diversity of Modern Interpretations of Calvinism, especially in Germany and the English-Speaking World
Friedrich W. Graf
Chapter Thirteen: Calvin, Modern Calvinism and Civil Society:
The Appropriation of a Heritage, with Particular Reference to the Low Countries
Cornelis van der Kooi
Chapter Fourteen: Calvin and British Evangelicalism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
David Bebbington
Chapter Fifteen: Calvin(ism) and Apartheid in South Africa in the Twentieth Century: The Making and Unmaking of a Racial Ideology
John W. de Gruchy

About the author: 

Irena Backus and Philip Benedict are Professers at the Institute of Reformation History, University of Geneva.

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