For many reasons, the name ‘John Calvin’ evokes a mixed reception. This unit is designed to help such reception to be an informed one. It provides an introduction to the theological and historical contexts of and developments in, the reformer’s thought and considers the social, intellectual and ecclesial legacies that his vision encourages.

Unit code: CH9028W

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Church History

Proposing College: Whitley College

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Learning outcomes


Identify important political, philosophical, social, cultural, and theological features that characterised Calvin’s world and articulate the ways they impacted his action and thought


Critically evaluate Calvin’s contribution to the movements of reform in sixteenth-century Europe and the social, intellectual and ecclesial legacies that his ideas have encouraged globally ever since


Interpret distinctive themes in Calvin’s major writings, particularly The Institutes of the Christian Religion, and critically appraise how they inform and correspond to each other


Engage critically and constructively with Calvin’s ideas, appraising their ongoing relevance for theology and church life in contemporary contexts


Exhibit independent research skills to engage and advance the questions raised in and by Calvin’s thought and legacy

Unit sequence

72 points in Foundational Studies


The unit will comprise of weekly lectures (2 hours) plus a tutorial (1 hour), both engaging with the topic for that module. Weekly readings will be assigned. These will form the basis of the tutorial discussions.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Calvin, John. *Calvin: Theological Treatises, ed. J. K. S. Reid, Library of Christian Classics. London: SCM Press, 1954.
  • ––––. Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, 2 vols., The Library of Christian Classics. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1977.
  • ––––. Institutes of the Christian Religion: 1541 French Edition, trans. Elsie Anne McKee. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2009.
  • De Gruchy, John W. John Calvin: Christian Humanist and Evangelical Reformer. Eugene: Cascade Books, 2013.
  • (for CH students) Gordon, Bruce. Calvin. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2009.
  • McKim, Donald K. ed., The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Parker, Thomas H. L. Calvin: An Introduction to His Thought. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995.
  • ––––. John Calvin: A Biography. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.
  • (for CT students) Partee, Charles. The Theology of John Calvin. Louisville/London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.
  • Wendel, François. Calvin: The Origins and Development of his Religious Thought, trans. Philip Mairet. London: Collins, 1963.
  • Zachman, Randall C. John Calvin as Teacher, Pastor and Theologian: The Shape of His Writings and Thought. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay 4000 words

4000 60.0
Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography 2000 words

2000 25.0
Document Study

Document Study 1500 words

1500 15.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 27 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-14 09:54:43 +1100