Friday, July 10, 2009

Calvin by the Book

Today, 500 years ago, John Calvin (1509-1564) was born. An exhibition at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto, Calvin by the Book: A Literary Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Birth of John Calvin, focuses on Calvin’s life and legacy through books.
From the exhibition site:
John Calvin was a man of the book in every possible sense. First, he lived his life in an uncompromising manner by the Book … Second, he was a humanist and scholar who, living through the birth of modernity, not only depended on the printed word to inform his ideas, but also used the opportunities presented by the invention of the printing press to disseminate his thoughts and reflections to a world that was primed for change. Third, he helped to shape the history of the book itself. … Of all of the sheets of print produced by individual writers in the period from 1541 to 1565, Calvin is responsible for an astonishing 42% of the total …
Because he lived and wrote, Christianity has been forever changed; the political structures of the West have been permanently altered; even the economic realities by which we order our lives have been shaped by the vision that he and his disciples had of humanity’s place in creation.