Calvin, John


Calvin, John
(1509-1564)
   French religious reformer. Although identified mainly with the Protestant Reformation, Calvin began his intellectual development as a follower of humanism. Born at Noyon in northern France, he studied liberal arts at the University of Paris and law at Orléans and Bourges. He was more interested in the new humanistic movement and in the vague ideas of religious reform associated with it than in the traditional academic curriculum. At Paris he studied with a prominent humanist, Mathurin Cordier; at Orléans he received private lessons in Greek from the German humanist Melchior Wolmar, who was already a follower of Martin Luther; at Bourges he studied with the humanistic reformer of legal studies Andrea Alciati. After his father's death freed him to pursue his own goals, Calvin returned to Paris (1531) to study the Greek language, the Bible, and classical literature. In 1532 he published his first book, a humanistic commentary on the treatise De dementia by the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca. Like many young French humanists of his time, he admired the biblical humanism of Lefèvre d'Etaples and Erasmus and probably had read some works of Luther. As late as 1532 he still seems to have regarded himself a Catholic.
   Sometime between 1532 and 1535, however, Calvin changed from reformminded Catholic humanist into committed Protestant. Twice, in 1533 and 1534-1535, he left Paris during periods when the authorities were actively hunting heretics. During the second of these exiles, Calvin spent several months in the Protestant city of Basel, where in 1535 he wrote the first version of his masterpiece of Protestant theology, Institutes of the Christian Religion, published the following year. After a few months at the court of the French-born duchess René of Ferrara, who sheltered a circle of Protestant sympathizers, he returned briefly to France and then began an exile that lasted for the rest of his life and transformed him into a major Protestant theologian and the leader of the Reformation in Geneva, where he spent most of his remaining years.
   Nevertheless, Calvin's humanist background remained evident. Aside from his frequently reprinted Institutes, his principal theological works were his commentaries on the Bible. In them he applied the humanistic techniques of historical and linguistic analysis to probe the Scriptures. Also reflecting his humanist background was his emphasis on humanistic education as the essential preparation for leaders of religious reform. This commitment to education in the humanities culminated in the founding of the Genevan Academy in 1559.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Calvin, John — • Born at Noyon in Picardy, France, 10 July, 1509, and died at Geneva, 27 May, 1564 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Calvin, John     John Calvin …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • CALVIN, JOHN° — (1509–1564), French Church reformer and theologian. Calvin was one of the foremost Christian Bible exegetes of his time. He wrote commentaries on Isaiah (1551), Genesis (1554), Psalms and Hosea (1557), the 12 Minor Prophets (1560), Daniel (1561) …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Calvin, John — French Jean Cauvin born July 10, 1509, Noyon, Picardy, France died May 27, 1564, Geneva, Switz. French Protestant theologian and major figure of the Reformation. He studied religion at the University of Paris and law in Orléans and Bourges. When… …   Universalium

  • CALVIN, John — (1509 1564) A dominant figure of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin was a preacher, biblical scholar, and theologian. Although his Reform movement was centered in Geneva, Calvin s influence extended throughout all of Europe in the sixteenth… …   Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary

  • Calvin, John — ( 1509 1564 )    founder of the Reformed stream of Protestantism    One of the principle intellectual and organizational leaders of the 16th century Protestant Reformation, John Calvin was the fountainhead of one of the two major streams of… …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

  • Calvin, John — (1509–64)    Theologian and Denomination Founder.    Calvin was born in Noyon, Picardy and was trained as a lawyer. By 1533 he was an avowed Protestant and was compelled to leave Paris where he was pursuing literary studies. He spent the next… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Calvin, John — (1509 64)    A French Protestant theologian, Calvin, through his years of reform at Geneva, became the great systematiser of the Reformation while laying the foundations for the theology that would bear his name. While Calvin s background was… …   Christian Philosophy

  • CALVIN, John — (1509 1564)    after LUTHER, Calvin is the greatest of the Protestant REFORMERS and one of the most important CHRISTIAN theologians of all time. As a result of his CONVERSION and the influence of LUTHER, he fled France arriving at Geneva in 1536… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Calvin,John — Cal·vin (kălʹvĭn), John. 1509 1564. French born Swiss Protestant theologian who broke with the Roman Catholic Church (1533) and set forth the tenets of his theology, known today as Presbyterianism, in Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536).… …   Universalium

  • CALVIN, JOHN —    or CAUVIN    the great Reformer, born at Noyon, in Picardy; devoted for a time to the law, was sent to study at the university of Orleans, after having mastered Latin as a boy at Paris; became acquainted with the Scriptures, and acquired a… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia


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