John Calvin, the Making of the Reformer

Michael Mullett introduces the life and work of a remarkable Protestant leader.

John Calvin aged 53 (Bibliotheque de Geneve)
John Calvin aged 53 (Bibliotheque de Geneve)

‘The Whole of the Christian Religion in All its Parts.’ Calvin’s words, used to indicate his intention in his masterpiece the ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’, suggest something of the scale – and the achievement – of his literary and educational ambition. Appearing first in the international languages of Latin, in 1536, as Christianae Religionis Institutio (‘An Instruction in Christian Faith’), this book became the container vehicle by means of which Calvin’s doctrinal system was to be exported through much of Europe, and beyond. Alongside the ‘Institutes’, Calvin authored a string of highly influential theological and controversial writings and extended commentaries on Scriptures. As with Martin Luther (1483-1546), Calvin’s vast and abiding influence was generated in the first instance by an imposing literary output.

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