12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Calvin (Hardcover)
2009 marked 500 years since the birth of John Calvin. I read 6 books on the man, and this was the best by a country mile. A truly superb work of history and biography.
Areas in which this biography particularly excels are:
1) Depth. It is extremely thorough, though never stodgily written.
2) Balance. All in all, it's a sympathetic account. Certainly there's a thorough debunking of all the myths of the nightmarish Genevan police state we hear so much of. But Gordon's Calvin is very much human, prone to bouts of pride, insecurity and temper.
3) Context. Calvin is put in his place as a churchman of the 16th century superbly. It is very tempting for us to see Calvin as a child of destiny, but in his day he was one reformer among a crowd. His works were valued, but read alongside a whole cast of other reformers.
4) Simplicity. Not everyone's idea of bedtime reading, perhaps, but not so technical that a serious and open minded reader couldn't understand even without any previous background in Reformed theology.
5) Style. It's like reading fine wine.
If you're looking for something less comprehensive, I'd highly recommend Robert Godfrey's John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor, but Gordon really is the Rolls Royce for depth and scholarly acumen