John Calvin and the Grounding of Interpretation: Calvin’s First Commentaries


Author: R. Ward Holder
This book considers John Calvin’s interpretation of the Pauline epistles, discussing his interpretive method and the link between biblical interpretation and correct doctrine. It introduces a division between doctrinal hermeneutics and textual exegetical rules clarifying Calvin’s relationship to the antecedent and subsequent traditions. The book portrays Calvin as a theologian for whom the doctrinal and exegetical tasks cohered, especially in the context of the Church in the Reformations.
The first section presents the division between hermeneutical principles and exegetical rules, demonstrating each in Calvin’s commentaries. The second section considers the coherence of Calvin’s theological, exegetical and historical efforts. The text is grounded by the inclusion of many instances of Calvin’s interpretation, and his reflections on the nature of biblical interpretation.

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R. Ward Holder, Ph.D. (1998) in Theology, Boston College, is Associate Professor of Theology at Saint Anselm College. He has published on Calvin and exegesis including articles in The Cambridge Companion to Calvin (Cambridge, 2004), and Calvin Studies Society Papers.
Holder is commendably well-read in the literature of Calvin studies, and he has scrutinized this particular slice of Calvin’s exegetical corpus with exquisite care and freshness. His study successfully sets forth Calvin’s commitments and workings as an exegete who was in various measures also a pastor, preacher, theologian, and statesman. In the course of his analysis, Holder identifies not only Calvin’s usual methodical and controlled exegesis of the biblical text but also moments in which Calvin tips his hand so as to reveal a hermeneutical and ecclesiastical agenda that is quite capable of explicitly setting aside his own exegetical findings in favor of these prior and higher theological commitments.
John L. Thompson, Theology Today

1. Readers and Readings
2. Hermeneutical Principles
3. Exegetical Practices
4. Scopus Scripturae, Interpretation’s Aim
5. Tradition Received Through Fire
6. Reception through Transformation
7. Traditions Renewed

Selected Bibliography
Index of Terms
Index of Classical, Patristic and Early Modern Names
Index of Biblical Citations
All those interested in hermeneutic theory, early modern exegesis, the reception of the Fathers in the 16th century, John Calvin, and Reformation history, as well as biblical scholars and theologians.