Barbara PitkinMay 5, 2021
Calvin, the Bible, and History
Oxford University Press 2020
John Calvin was known foremost for his powerful impact on the fundamental doctrines of Protestantism, and his biblical interpretation continues to attract interest and inquiry. Calvin, the Bible, and History investigates Calvin's exegesis of the Bible through the lens of one of its most distinctive and distinguishing features: his historicizing approach to scripture. Barbara Pitkin here explores how historical consciousness affected Calvin's interpretation of the Bible, sometimes leading him to unusual, unprecedented, and occasionally controversial exegetical conclusions.
Through several case studies, Pitkin explores the multi-faceted ways that historical consciousness was interlinked with Calvin's interpretation of biblical books, authors, and themes, analyzing the centrality of history in his engagement with scripture from the Pentateuch to his reception of the apostle Paul. First establishing the relevant intellectual and cultural contexts, Pitkin situates Calvin's readings within broader cultural trends and historical developments, demonstrating the expansive impact of Calvin's concept of history on his reading of the Bible. Calvin, the Bible, and History (Oxford UP, 2020) reveals the significance of his efforts to relate the biblical past to current historical conditions, reshaping an earlier image of Calvin as a forerunner of modern historical criticism by viewing his deep historical sensibility and distinct interpretive approach within their early modern context.
Zach McCulley (@zamccull) is a historian of religion and literary cultures in early modern England and PhD candidate in History at Queen's University Belfast.