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Letter to the Editor – Spring 2019

On John Calvin’s Institutes

Marilynne Robinson (the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Gilead) reflects deeply on John Calvin in her 1998 book of essays The Death of Adam, specifically on how no one reads what Calvin himself wrote but instead read learned-looking books which do not “include a single work of his immense corpus in their bibliographies, nor indicate in their allusions to him a better knowledge than folklore can provide of what he thought and said”. It is exciting to hear, therefore, that a 365-year-old copy of John Calvin’s Institutes is to have a new life at Trinity College Library (page 44, Winter 2019 edition).

I wonder if any of our students have enough Latin to read it, as I am sure the Rev William Nelson had. Sadly I do not. What a monolingual uneducated lot we are! (And I make no comment on how many languages many of our asylum seekers speak). I, therefore, will have to continue to rely on the Rev Dr Geraldine Wheeler to lend me books such as The Death of Adam and Robinson’s more recent essays What are we Doing here?—written in English of course!

Dr Brigid Limerick
Indooroopilly Uniting Church

P.S. It is also interesting to note that Calvin (Jean Cauvin) was influenced by the Christian intellectual Marguerite of Navarre, sister of the French` King Francois 1. See more of this fascinating study in Robinson’s essays on Marguerite of Navarre in The Death of Adam.

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