The Unquenchable Flame
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Further reading: John Calvin
- Mike Reeves was formerly UCCF's Head of Theology, and is now Theologian-at-Large at Wales Evangelical School of Theology. View all resources by Mike Reeves
Calvin usually surprises his first-time readers with his warmth and accessibility. Few should have trouble in reading and enjoying the Institutes, and that should be where to start. Ford Lewis Battles’ translation of the 1559 edition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960) is undoubtedly the standard and best: quite apart from the quality of translation, it has excellent footnotes and indices that make it markedly superior to the old nineteenth-century Beveridge translation.
John Dillenberger’s anthology John Calvin: Selections from His Writings (New York: Anchor, 1971) provides a good collection of some of Calvin’s other works.
Readers need to be more careful with biographies and secondary literature on Calvin: there are many that are highly opinionated and biased. François Wendel’s Calvin: The Origins and Development of his Religious Thought (London: Collins, 1963) is the classic single-volume introduction to the man and his thought.
After that, try anything by T. H. L. Parker, who has written first-rate books on the man, the Institutes, his commentaries and his preaching.
If you start the journey, you should soon find that, like Karl Barth, you could gladly and profitably set yourself down and spend at least some of your life just with Calvin.