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Return to Book Page. Harmony of the Law - Volume 1 by John Calvin. Reading Calvin nearly always leads to new insights on a passage. His commentaries are unsurpassed for originality, depth, perspicuity, soundness and permanent value. He combined in a very rare degree all the essential qualities of an exegete—grammatical knowledge, spiritual insight, acute perception, sound judgment, and practical tact.
Links to commentary on passages are represented compactly in the Table of Contents so you can find commentary on a passage with minimal paging. This edition features an artistic cover, a new promotional introduction, an index of scripture references, links for scripture references to the appropriate passages, and a hierarchical table of contents which makes it possible to navigate to any part of the book with a minimum of page turns. Get A Copy. Nook , 0 pages.
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Learn more Check out. Citing Literature. Volume 43 , Issue 2 April Pages Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. Forgot password? One additional element of exegesis must be discussed before turning to the respective exegetical methods and styles, that is, the goal and purpose for expounding Scripture.
No doubt, an exegete's purpose will affect the actual commentary produced. Aquinas writes far less than Calvin on the topic of exegesis itself, and does not, so far as we could determine, express his views on this matter. Perhaps his answer would be simply that it is the Word of God and ought to be explained for the benefit of man, for he does maintain that "Sacred Scripture is divinely ordered to this: that through it, the truth necessary for salvation may be made known to us.
On the other hand, Calvin is much more explicit on this score.
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It is evident that he set his mind to produce as many commentaries as he could in his lifetime, having in mind already this desire in when he wrote in his Epistle to the Reader attached to the Institutes, "if I shall hereafter publish any commentaries on Scripture. Many have proposed explanations for Calvin's energetic writing of commentaries, but the simplest and most logical is that of W.
De Greef: "Early on it appeared that Calvin wished to stimulate as much use of the Bible by the common people as possible. Thus Calvin's motive for writing commentaries was, first of all, to benefit the church. Secondly, and closely related to the above, commenting on Scripture is for the edification of the church. Thirdly, Calvin desires to set the Scriptures free from the perversions of the Church of Rome. Writing to King Edward, Calvin blames the troubles and errors of Rome on her departure from Scripture.
He reassures the faithful "that nothing is more firm or certain than the teaching of Scripture.
Finally, in all his exegesis Calvin's goal is to find "Christ in it. Anyone who deviates from this may labor and study all his life, but he will not come to a knowledge of the truth. Having examined the exegetical principles underlying the exegesis of Calvin and of Aquinas, as well as some of the implications involved, we must yet observe the techniques of these exegetes, that is to say, the manner in which they worked with Scripture and the style of their commentaries. First, as to the use of the language, in his exegesis Calvin deals with philology, grammar, and figures of rhetoric.
It should also be noted, however, that these same activities are perfectly in harmony with his high view of Scripture, and the emphasis on the literal meaning. Calvin pays particular attention to the words of Scripture. Before beginning to comment, he engages in textual criticism to obtain the correct reading of the Greek or Hebrew text, and then translates the passage into Latin. Calvin seeks the particular meaning of the individual word. In the end, however, the context is the final court of appeal.
Parker asserts that the context is "all-important" for determining the meaning of the words. Individual words or clauses are not allowed any eccentricity; they are controlled by the context. Conversely, the meaning of the context is understood by the interrelationship of the meanings of the individual parts.
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Hence these parts are to be interpreted only in relationship to the other parts. Calvin learned the importance of this from experience. Arguing against the Anabaptist position, he observes that "there are many passages of Scripture whose meaning depends on their peculiar position. Concerning the use of language, it must be pointed out that Aquinas is at a distinct disadvantage in comparison with Calvin, for Aquinas did not have a working knowledge of either the Hebrew or the Greek. In his exegesis, therefore, he is dependent on the Latin, and the Latin Bible he uses is the Vulgate.
Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 3: Harmony of the Law, Part I: Translator's Preface
Lamb notes that Aquinas did have concordances and dictionaries at his disposal. At the same time, Farrar is obviously less than impressed with Aquinas' linguistic skills. He complains that. From these imaginary identities of expression, by a method which seems to have survived from the days of Hillel, he deduces systems extremely ingenious but utterly without foundation. Aquinas and Calvin share in this distinction, that both repudiate complicated and verbose commentary on Scripture. O'Meara points out a report of an early biographer of Aquinas that "students flocked to his classroom" already in Aquinas' early lecturing days.
This is also a consuming passion of Calvin. It is well documented that Calvin not only loved brevity, but that he strove consciously and deliberately for clarity and brevity in his commentaries.
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Though he recognizes the value of the style of other men, such as Melancthon and Bucer, Calvin rejects their style for himself. He will not as Bucer make the commentary long and difficult, lest it be of no value for the ordinary reader. Nor will he include long discussions of theological topics in his commentaries as did Melancthon , for he fears that the reader may well become bored, and that the various verses will not all be treated.
Treatment of topics is reserved for his Institutes , he announces already in the Epistle to the Reader in his Edition. But above all, Calvin insists that a commentary must be brief and clear!