Calvin the Humanist

Calvin at times shows his humanist colors when he comments on the text of Scripture, he did not simply accept an innerant view. For example:

And the scribes and Pharisees bring to him. It is plain enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek Churches; and some conjecture that it has been brought from some other place and inserted here. But as it has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage. (on John 8.3)

No longer drink water. There are some who conjecture that this sentence, which breaks off the train of thought, was not written by Paul. But we see that Paul was not so anxious about keeping up the close connection of a discourse, and that it was very customary with him to intermingle a variety of statements without any arrangement. Besides, it is possible that what had been formerly written in the margin of the Epistle afterwards found its way into this passage through the mistake of the transcribers. Yet there is no necessity for giving ourselves much trouble on that point, if we consider Paul’s custom, which I have mentioned, of sometimes mingling various subjects. (on I Tim 5.23)

2 thoughts on “Calvin the Humanist”

  1. I knew that Calvin had humanist training, but I did not realize that he was responding to questions about the textual integrity of the official versions of the Bible that sound somewhat like questions from modern scholars.

    I didn’t think those kinds of challenges would be prevalent in the 16th century, but I suppose if the humanists were applying their textual criticisms to other documents some would look at the Bible in the same way.

  2. The Reformation was truly a ‘back to the sources’ movement. I think Calvin was a pretty sophisticated exegete from what I can tell.

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