Establishing the Remnant Church in France

Calvin’s Lectures on the Minor Prophets, 1556-1559


Calvin lectured on the Minor Prophets from 1555/6 to 1559, beginning at the time of the implementation of the Peace of Augsburg. He saw the era in which he lived – particularly the period following the calling of the Council of Trent (1545) and the enforcing of the Augsburg Interim (1548) – as like that of Elijah; a fundamentally troubled era for the church. This study offers a comprehensive analysis of these lectures, their context, audience, and aims. It argues that they were integral not simply to his training of ministers and missionaries for France but to Calvin’s endeavors to call the faithful remnant out of a corrupt Roman Church and to re-establish the Christian Church in France (and Europe).
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Biographical Note

Jon Balserak, Ph.D. (2002) in Early Modern History, University of Edinburgh, is Lecturer in Religious Studies at University of Bristol. He has published widely on the religious history of the Early Modern period including, Divinity Compromised; A Study of Divine Accommodation in the Thought of John Calvin..

Review Quotes

"In this volume Balserak makes a powerful case for seeing Calvin as –in his own estimation– a prophet ... He is to be congratulated for his incredible work and his important contribution to our understanding of the great Reformer of Geneva. All those engaged in Calvin research will benefit from a reading of it."
Jim West, Zwingliana 40 (2013)

"Balserak's work is extensively researched and persuasively argued. His analysis of the contexts, audience, and aims of the lectures situates them in the midst of the turbulent times in which they were delivered. He shows Calvin's theological convictions were primary to his understanding of the church and that his concerns for the church in his homeland were very much central."
Donald McKim, Sixteenth Century Journal XLIV,1

"By integrating the historical and theological, Balserak captures the dynamism of the Reformed movement in a way few solely theological works do. His approach is refreshing, especially to historians who have reviewed works that treat theology abstractly without taking into consideration the events of the time. Historians as well as theologians will enjoy and benefit from this book."
Jeannine Olson in H-France Review 13.38 (April 2013)

"Balserak's book not only investigates Calvin's approach to the minor prophets in light of earlier Christian exegetical tradition but also utilizes Calvin's interpretation to illuminate the historical, religious, and political situation in France at the end of the 1550s. This welcome addition to the literature opens up new avenues for viewing Calvin's writings in light of the concrete historical settings that produced them."
Barbara Pitkin (Stanford University)

“This book is a closely argued analysis of Calvin’s lectures on the OT’s minor prophets. […] Balserak has a commendable clarity of style and reliable command of a broad range of Calvin’s works.”
Graeme Murdock, Trinity College Dublin. In: Religious Studies Review, Vol. 38, No. 4 (December 2012), p. 247-248.

“John Balserak has written an insightful and masterful work of historical scholarship […]. John Balserak’s study is a valuable contribution to the historiography of early modern European history, particularly the Protestant Reformation and religious history more generally. Students and professors of history will benefit from his meticulous and engaging analysis of Calvin’s sermons .”
Carolyn Corretti, Suffolk University. In: Church History, Vol. 81, No. 4 (December 2012), pp. 982-983.


All those interested in Early Modern religious history, the cultural history of Reformed protestantism, intellectual history, the life and thought of John Calvin, biblical exegesis, and the history of the Christian church.