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John Calvin (1509–64)

Mary E. Coleman

Subject Religion » Christianity

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1500-1599

People Calvin, John

Key-Topics Reformation, The, theology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405135078.2009.00030.x


John Calvin was born at Noyon in Picardy, France on July 10, 1509, and died at Geneva, May 27, 1564. Although trained as a lawyer as well as a theologian and never ordained, he is considered by many to be the foremost theologian to emerge from the Reformation period. It would be hard to overestimate his importance to the reformed churches of the succeeding centuries. However, while he was such an important theologian it is equally important to remember that he was also a caring teacher and an effective pastor. His concerns with these last two aspects may, in part, undergird his lasting importance to contemporary reformed churches. His family was part of the French middle class. For many years of his childhood his father served as attorney for the local bishop, practicing both civil and canon law, although the relationship ended in a serious dispute which caused his father's eventual excommunication. However, while the relationship lasted it provided financial support for Calvin's extensive and prolonged studies in Paris. When Calvin was quite young his father had purchased the freedom of the city of Noyon, indicating both his ambitions for his family and his prosperity. Calvin was the fourth of six children, raised in a devout family; he associated as a youth with the aristocratic families of his community and developed the tastes and manners of this elite. At age 14 he went to ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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