Talk:John Calvin/Archive 2

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Archive 1 | Archive 2 | Archive 3


My change was to fix minor vandalism to this entry. Be aware. AcilletaM (talk) 06:02, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

There's still a lot of vandalism in this page, such as random swear words. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:23, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Calvin in Current Contexts

Would it be proper on this page to try to bring some of Calvin's theology forward in time to the present day to reference some current activities of Christians? For example, would Calvin have checked whether a particular "Calling" of a person, perhaps his own, was a true Calling or a false Calling by checking said Callings against Scripture? Perhaps another editor, more gifted and read than me, can rephrase this question in a manner consistent with an encyclopedic entry rather than creating the appearance of such a new section looking like an opinionated blog. Nukeh (talk) 14:25, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps I'm not understanding what you're suggesting, but it seems that you're asking "What Would Calvin Do?" in some modern context. Since such material would of necessity be based on speculation and extrapolation rather than accepted knowledge and historical fact, it would not be appropriate here. Also, original research on the topic is, of course, verboten. --Flex (talk/contribs) 16:03, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Understood and agree with you. I have Calvin's writings that were recently translated from French and Latin into English. Perhaps that reference is a better way to put Calvin in today's context. Perhaps he reveals something in those writings concerning his own Calling. I am a novice at this subject and new to wiki. Thanks, Nukeh (talk) 13:27, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

I'd suggest that you find some third-party reliable sources that assert that this is a significant and notable component in Calvin's thought. Citing primary sources alone is not sufficient here because, from the WP's perspective, it is indistinguishable from original research. Let me know if you need help. --Flex (talk/contribs) 14:09, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Flex, thanks. On more general questions concerning WP, could you put a watch on "my talk" page, so I can query there rather than here? Nothing urgent. Nukeh (talk) 20:45, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

odd apologetic tone

I can see this article has been the subject of much argument.

The current (consensus?) text has a very odd and unclear tone, as if trying to rescue Calvin from allegations that are never clearly stated. For example it says

Calvin's acceptance of torture is rejected by modern Calvinists

Does that mean modern Calvinists reject the use of torture, they reject the argument that Calvin accepted the use of torture, they condemn Calvin for accepting it, or something else?

Calvin's zeal was very much the rule among civil and church authorities in 16th century Europe,
And, while Calvin also wrote the heresy charges, Geneva's city council did far more to steer Servetus' trial, sentence, and burning at the stake.

This seems more like an excuse than the provision of context. Subsolar (talk) 02:01, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

The first statement in context doesn't seem odd to me. It follows a description of some cases of corporal punishment under Calvin. The entire paragraph reads:
Calvin's acceptance of torture is rejected by modern Calvinists,[16] but in this view, he was in accord with the prevailing attitude of that age. Few persons of any position or religious denomination were critical of the practice, though there certainly were exceptions such as Anton Praetorius and Calvin's former friend Sebastian Castellio.
Explaining the then-current views and views of his later followers seems appropriate because it is an obvious cultural difference. However, I do see how the first sentence is ambiguous, and I've adjusted it in the text.
Absurd. We have articles about the views back then, if someone wants to read about it, they can go to another article and read it. This is about NEUTRALITY, not about trying to balance out cultural bias with bias the other way.
The latter two sentences also seem to me to fit the flow in context. I'm certainly willing to hear more opinions on the matter, though. The article is of course a work in progress. --Flex (talk/contribs) 03:31, 15 February 2008 (UTC)
Thankyou. I think the first paragraph is clearer now. As a minor change, I think that "And, while Calvin also wrote the heresy charges" sounds like a weasel word and would be better without "And" - just a bald statement. Subsolar (talk) 00:58, 25 February 2008 (UTC)


As you can see I changed the text because it said that John Calvin was "Remarkably Religious" which is not true... because in the church history book I am reading it speciffically states that he was not a religious man! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:46, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

You'll have to be more specific. What book? What page? In what context? --Flex (talk/contribs) 21:30, 14 April 2008 (UTC)


I agree with the user that the location of the grave is in dispute. I did a little rewording because while it is not confirmed there seems to be a traditional gravesite that cannot be written off as "completly unverified with no authority". --Npnunda (talk) 04:12, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

bias in the servetus controversy section

This section attempts far too hard to paint Calvin in a flattering light. Taking such difficulties to defend a historical person is simply not neutral. The claims that the city council was more responsible for Servetus's death than Calvin, and such, are absolutely unnecessary unless you are trying to defend Calvin. This section should be rewritten. PyroGamer (talk) 22:32, 24 August 2008 (UTC)--

Calvin was not even a citizen of Geneva until 1555. He was a witness in the Servetus trial, he was NOT the judge, nor the prosecutor nor the did he sentence anyone. Modern liberals have tried to repaint Calvin as some sort of Tyrant but if one would actually read the history there they would find that it is simply not true. Calvin actually did not like Geneva all that much. He was begged to stay and was eventually kicked out and then begged to come back because the City council had no one who could respond to Sadoleto's letter. Calvin went to visit Servetus while he was in prison before his executiion many times in an attempt to change his mind and give him an opportunity to recant. Calvin was a witness in the trial testifying that Servetus had heretical theology.

In short, this whole theory of Calvin being the hegemon in Geneva is incorrect. I think the article does a fair job at displaying this but it should disconnect Calvin from Geneva more then it does. Calvin became a citizen in 1555 and died in 1564, he was never on the city council nor did he ever have any sort of political position. Just because modern historians or modern "I'll say whatever I want so that people will think a certain way" historians should do some research. Just giving that heads up...good article over all. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:00, 20 December 2008


FTA "Calvin and the other reformers (as well as Catholics in middle Europe) also believed that they should not permit the practice of witchcraft, in accord with their understanding of passages such as Exodus 22:18 and Leviticus 20:27,[20] and in 1545 twenty-three people were burned to death in Geneva under charges of practicing witchcraft and attempting to spread the plague over a three–year period.[21]"

So were the 23 burned in 1545, or in a three-year period? It's one or the other. I don't know which, but whoever does should edit this to be comprehensible. PyroGamer (talk) 22:55, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

Bible Translation

Didn't Calvin translate the Bible into French? Shouldn't this be mentioned? See has the Bible of Calvin seems not to have its own article, a discussion here would be all the more valuable. Rwflammang (talk) 18:24, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Calvin did not translate the Bible into French. He used and promoted a translation by his cousin, Pierre Olivetan. J S Ayer (talk) 04:16, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

2009 500th Anniversary events

Is it appropriate to mention all the planned events next year in Geneva - see the Calvin 500 website - I leave it to others to decide. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:28, 3 December 2008

This time-related event would be more appropriate for a news article than an encyclopedia article. See WP:IINFO, item 5. --RelHistBuff (talk) 23:17, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Lead image

Why is the lead image aligned to the left? You clain that it is per MOS, but point one of MOS:IMAGES is "Start an article with a right-aligned lead image or InfoBox." I have never seen another article begin with an image on the left, and it does not look very good. Reywas92Talk 20:33, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

The same guideline states "It is often preferable to place images of faces so that the face or eyes look toward the text". The image looks ridiculous facing outward from the text. There are certainly other articles like this. See, for example, Joseph Priestley and Mary Martha Sherwood (both featured). Let's not make the articles cookie-cutter just for the sake of uniformity - let's think about aesthetic principles. Awadewit (talk) 20:38, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, aesthetically I don't like images on the left of the lead. Could you use one of the other images from the article which faces left, please? Reywas92Talk 21:21, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
But this is the only color one, and, sadly, we live in a world where readers are attracted by color. Do you know of any other color Calvin images? Awadewit (talk) 21:27, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
There are some at [1], [2], and [3] that look left. They should all be in public domain. Reywas92Talk 21:47, 19 January 2009 (UTC)
RelHistBuff, what do you think? Awadewit (talk) 18:59, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I chose the lead picture because it is rather well known. It is used as the cover picture for the 2006 edition of Parker and for the English edition of Cottret. The source description of the picture is well-established and it is or nearly contemporary. As for the suggested pictures, the first one, I am not even certain if this is a painting of Calvin. The other two portraits appear to be modern renditions from an old engraving. The websites provide no source description information so one cannot be certain that they are in the public domain. Other FAs have the lead image on the left, so why not this one? --RelHistBuff (talk) 19:46, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Copyediting questions and comments

I'm so sorry that I didn't get to peer review this! I did a bunch a copyediting as I was reading. These are the questions and suggestions I have as a result:

  • I've added some redlinks, but I'm wondering if there are more that could be added. We should know what articles we are missing.
Added a few. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Have you checked to see if all instances of the word "church" are properly capitalized or not capitalized? I kept asking myself "I wonder..." when I was reading the article.
I believe "church" should be capitalised when referring to the one existing church organisation at the time (the Roman Catholic Church) and the concept of one "universal" Church. If there is a reference to a local church (Geneva or Strasbourg) or the body of reformed churches, this becomes unclear because there were no officially separate churches at the time (for example, the modern Protestant Church of Geneva). In these cases, I kept them lower case. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
I think that is a good plan. Awadewit (talk) 18:40, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • In the third paragraph of the lead, I linked to liturgy, but you might want to find a more precise link.
Relinked. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • His father, Gérard Cauvin, had a prosperous career as the cathedral notary and the registrar to the ecclesiastical court. - Are there good links for "cathedral notary" and "registrar to the ecclesiastical court"?
Linked. Notary public is not a great link, but there is a history section that explains the ecclesiastical origins. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Once he completed the course, he proceeded toward the philosophia arts course in the Collège de Montaigu - Is there a good link for "philosophia arts course"?
Rewritten. It was simply a philosophy course. Parker gave it that title, but Cottret avoided the Latin. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:02, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • The college's most influential headmaster, Jean Standonck, had reformed it into an educational monastery for the poor - The purpose of this sentence is unclear to me. Was Calvin one of these poor?
Yes, Parker had a detailed description of this. It seemed important to put this in at the time, but it seems out-of-place now, so I removed it. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • According to contemporary biographers of Calvin, Theodore Beza and Nicolas Colladon, as well as Calvin himself, Gérard believed his son would earn more money as a lawyer than as a priest. - Do modern biographers feel differently? Do we need to specify the source here or can we just say that Gerard encouraged his son to switch careers for monetary reasons?
The attribution to the contemporary biographers was made by Parker and he agreed with them. I added Cottret's view in the footnote. I thought that Cottret's statement amounted to speculation which is why I added his view only in the footnote. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:02, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Sometime during this period, Calvin was converted to the reformed faith. - I think most readers will be confused by the phrase "reformed faith". We need to explain what this means early on in the article.
None of the sources are specific about this because so little is known of his conversion (other than noting after-the-fact that he became a reformer). Because this section seems to arouse much curiosity, I decided to let the scholars speak for themselves, citing the sources, and dropping the "reformed faith". I think if I try to paraphrase something from the sources, it might appear as my own interpolation, so it is probably better that the reader is directed to the scholarly works and decide the issue for themselves. --RelHistBuff (talk) 12:26, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • By 1532, he received his licentiate in law and he published his first book - Is there a good link for "licentiate in law"?
I linked to the general article "licentiate". I see that there is an article on licentiate of canon law, but I don't think they are the same. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:56, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Cop was elected that autumn as rector of the university and on 1 November 1533 he devoted his inaugural address to the need for reform and renewal in the church. - Could we get a precise month instead of "autumn" and which "church" are we speaking of here? Is it possible to be more precise?
Only one source, McGrath, mentioned when he obtained the position (no month indicated). The others just mentioned speech, so I removed the clause. Changed to Catholic Church. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Sometime in 1537 he was selected to be a "pastor", although he never received any pastoral consecration - Could we find a good link for "pastoral consecration"?
Linked. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Secondly, as France was taking an interest in Geneva and as the two ministers were Frenchmen, rumours were started among the councillors, which raised suspicions regarding their loyalty. - This sentence is in the passive voice and as such obscures a crucial point - who started these rumors?
Parker mentioned this and he did not say who started it, just that it occurred. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Finally, a major ecclesiastical-political quarrel developed when Bern, Geneva's evangelical ally - What does "evangelical ally" mean?
Rewritten. --RelHistBuff (talk) 12:54, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Does "Eucharist" need to be capitalized throughout the article? I thought perhaps it might, but I don't know for sure.
Capitalised. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:33, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • What was in the expanded edition of the Institutio? What made it different? Why was Calvin dissatisfied with the first edition?
Added details on the second edition. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:22, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • The paragraph on Calvin's marriage is thin. Why was he reluctant to marry in the first place? Why did he agree to marriage the first woman? Why did he change his mind? Why did he marry the widow?
He wasn’t reluctant to marry because he did ask Farel for help in finding someone, but he did not seem very eager. I added a relevant quote from him. The sources do not say why he agreed to marry the first woman, other than a quote from Calvin saying that she and her brother were insistent. Added details on why he did not marry her. The sources also do not say why he married the widow. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:14, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
These quotes are a wonderful addition. He sounds just a bit selfish, doesn't he? Awadewit (talk) 20:03, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Is it possible to add links to the various positions and governmental bodies outlined in the first paragraph of the "Reform in Geneva" section in case a reader wants to learn more about them?
Done. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • How was the 1542 catechism different from Luther's? Did the earlier version not prioritize faith?
When I wrote "priority", I meant in how the order of the book was re-arranged. Expanded and rewritten. --RelHistBuff (talk) 12:32, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • An analysis of his sermons suggests that Calvin was a consistent preacher and his style changed very little over the years - Whose analysis?
Parker's. Added name. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:33, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • The house was big enough to accommodate his family as well as Antoine's family and some servants. - Why did his brother move to Geneva?
No reason is given in the sources, but the mention of Antoine appears sporadically in his life and he did go with Calvin to Strasbourg and then to Geneva. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:33, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • On 27 June an unsigned threatening letter in Genevan dialect was found at the pulpit of St. Pierre Cathedral where Calvin preached. - Why is it important that it was in Genevan dialect?
I assume this was mentioned to imply that the suspect must be Genevan (as opposed to a French refugee). Gruet, the one who was implicated, was Genevan. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps the sentence could be written to make this a bit clearer? Awadewit (talk) 18:40, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
Rewritten and added that opposition was not just to Calvin but also to the French refugee ministers. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:56, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • One from Favre's group, Jacques Gruet was arrested and incriminating evidence was found when his house was searched. - "One" what?
Rewritten. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Under torture, he confessed to several crimes. The civil court condemned him to death and with Calvin's consent, he was beheaded on 26 July - What crimes?
Added clause. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:38, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Should we refer to the "libertines" by that name in the article? Is there a less POV name for them?
The group referred to themselves as "Children of Geneva". This was used by some sources, but almost in an ironic sense. Parker consistently used the term "Perrinists". I did not like "libertines" either, but I decided to finally use the term when I read from Cottret, "They were maliciously called 'libertines,' the title under which they have passed to posterity." Also Helm and De Greef uses the term. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm convinced. Awadewit (talk) 18:46, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Calvin protested that the council was not competent to make that decision - Is "incompetent" really the right word here?
I meant competent in the legal sense. Do you prefer "Calvin protested that the council was not a competent body to make that decision." --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:20, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
I think that meaning might be missed by most readers - how about something like "the council did not have the legal authority to make that decision"? Awadewit (talk) 18:46, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
OK, I took your wording. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:56, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • With the death of Servetus, Calvin was acclaimed a defender of the faith. - Do we need to say which faith? It might be a bit obscure to some readers.
Parker used the words "defender of the faith", but he was not specific about which faith. He also added "champion of Christendom" which seems to imply Christianity as a whole (not just faith of the reformers or the Catholic Church). I changed it to "defender of Christianity". --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:44, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • The syndics and the councillors were now on Calvin's side. - Were they now on Calvin's side because they had been elected by his supporters? I'm a bit confused.
Yes. Merged sentences. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:33, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • The syndic Henri Aulbert tried to intervene, carrying with him the baton of office that symbolised his power. - Is there a good article to link for "baton of office" that we could link to?
Linked. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:33, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Initially, Luther and Calvin had mutual respect for each other, but the doctrinal divide between Huldrych Zwingli and Luther on the eucharist forced Luther to place Calvin into Zwingli's camp. - There is no setup for this statement and its meaning is rather obscure to the reader.:
Expanded and rewritten. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:56, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • The council had noted to Calvin that it would not get involved in the missionary activities due to the difficult political situation with France at the time. - I'm not sure what the relationship between this information and that of the Genevan churches funding work in France is exactly. Could you add a bit more?
Added explanation. --RelHistBuff (talk) 13:14, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • A site for the school was found on 25 March 1558 and it opened the following year on 5 June 1559. - "found" or "selected"?
Used selected. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:33, 20 January 2009 (UTC)
  • The final edition was greatly expanded to the extent that Calvin referred to it as a new work. - What was new about this edition?
Added sentence. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:13, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Calvin acknowledges that this doctrine originated with Augustine. - How necessary is this sentence? It doesn't flow with the rest of the paragraph right now.
Rewritten so hopefully flows better. Augustine does need to be mentioned here as Calvin (and later Calvinists) sought to demonstrate that he was not creating new theology. --RelHistBuff (talk) 07:34, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Do you think this should be mentioned in the article? Awadewit (talk) 18:55, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that's a good point. I added a sentence and cite. --RelHistBuff (talk) 10:37, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Hence, this old covenant was not in opposition to Christ. - This sentence would make more sense if it had more information, if it ended with a "but rather" clause.
Added clause. --RelHistBuff (talk) 08:42, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • This is followed by the regeneration of life or the return to the image of God before Adam’s transgression. - I don't quite understand this.
Rewritten. Image of God was Calvin's way of describing the state of holiness. --RelHistBuff (talk) 08:42, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • The scriptural basis for the type of ministers is taken from a passage in Ephesians and they consisted of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and doctors - I'm not sure what "the type of ministers" is supposed to mean.
Rewritten. I just meant that "types" are the titles of the offices. --RelHistBuff (talk) 08:42, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Calvin provided many of the foundational documents in the support and the organisation of the church - What does "in the support and the organisation of the church" mean?
Example documents to support the church would be catechisms, works for teaching, etc. and documents for the organisation of the church would include those on governance and polity. --RelHistBuff (talk) 08:42, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
This needs to be made clear in the article. Awadewit (talk) 18:58, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I saw that you already changed this. [4] It looks fine; the extra info is not needed. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:08, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Even the Geneva académie was eclipsed by universities in Leiden and Heidelberg, which became the new strongholds of Calvin's ideas, first identified as "Calvinism" by Joachim Westphal. - When?
1552. Included. --RelHistBuff (talk) 14:39, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I don't think that the "Theology", "Selected works", and "Legacy" sections are well-represented in the lead.
Added a few sentences to cover those three sections. --RelHistBuff (talk) 17:59, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

I hope these are helpful. Awadewit (talk) 01:48, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

John Calvin's works

After the FAC, what do you think about creating a List of works by John Calvin? I find such pages to be enormously helpful. See List of works by Joseph Priestley and my ongoing project, List of works by Mary Shelley. Awadewit (talk) 19:58, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I think it is a great idea, especially considering the quincentennial. I would have to come back to you for advice though on how this is properly done. --RelHistBuff (talk) 12:51, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I went ahead and created this list. --Flex (talk/contribs) 17:30, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
List of works by John Calvin was featured on WP:DYK today. Considering that I ripped half the text from RelHistBuff's rewrite and the other half from the old version of the article, thanks are due all around. --Flex (talk/contribs) 14:36, 3 February 2009 (UTC)


Do you think all of Calvin's works should be redlinked? Surely articles could be written on all of them. Awadewit (talk) 21:48, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Interesting question and I don't know the answer. I guess it is a question on how notable is each work. Some seem rather obvious because they are often mentioned in secondary sources (such as the Commentary on Romans). Others such as the minor letters and treatises may not reach the WP:GNG threshold of notability. I noticed in your list for Priestley, you have one redlink which I assume you have determined is a candidate for its own article and many of the rest are not linked. How does one decide? --RelHistBuff (talk) 12:51, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
More Priestley titles could probably be redlinked. Originally, I redlinked and created articles for the most important works, that is, the ones that were most frequently mentioned in the Priestley biographies and that I was describing in Joseph Priestley. However, I have a feeling more articles could be created. I just started with the essentials. Awadewit (talk) 19:02, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Caps etc.

I have some friendly questions about RelHistBuff's recent edits, and I thought I'd put them here rather than on his (her?) user talk page in case others cared to comment.

First on caps: I reread WP:MOS#Capital_letters, which has changed since I last internalized it, and some of my copy editing cap changes (e.g., "father" and "supper") were certainly out of conformance with the latest MOS. One that I believe is clearly incorrect now, however, is "Providence", which should be lower case. Less clear cut is "Church". I read RelHistBuff's reasoning above, but as I read the MOS, it should not be capitalized unless it is referring to a specific group such as the Catholic Church. This would exclude caps on "Church" meaning the invisible or true church. Also less clear cut is "Word" in the phrase "God's Word, the teaching of Scripture." What do you think?

Second, on the first sentence(s) in the Theology section, I prefer the text as I had it (actually, I'll tweak the wording slightly here):

Calvin's theology, the most enduring component of his thought, is developed in his biblical commentaries as well as his sermons and treatises, but it is in his magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, where he summarizes his views on Christian theology and gives the most concise expression of his thought.

But RelHistBuff restored the old text:

In the preface to the final edition of his magnum opus, the Institutes, Calvin wrote that he intended the book to be used as a summary of his views on Christian theology and that it should be read in conjunction with his Biblical commentaries. In order to obtain a complete picture of Calvin's theology, one needs to examine his commentaries as well as his sermons and treatises, but it is the Institutes that gives the most concise expression of his thought.

on the reasoning that "it was Calvin himself who said that the Institutes should be used with the commentaries."

In my view, the latter version is too hortatory in style as well as a bit redundant. Calvin's intentions for the use of his books does not strike me as essential here. All we need to say is that all his works contribute to our picture of his theology, but the most concise (ha!) expression is found in the Institutes. The first version says just this succinctly and then gets right on to describing his theology in RelHistBuff's excellent fashion. What do you think? --Flex (talk/contribs) 15:40, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

1) On caps: The MOS can't cover every eventuality and I think this system works. Most importantly, the article is consistent.
2) I think Flex's version of the opening sentence to "Theology" is much better than the current one - it is concise and foregrounds Calvin's theology rather than the people studying it. Awadewit (talk) 19:06, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. On #1, I take it you are referring to "Church" specifically. What about "Providence" and the newly added "Word"? --Flex (talk/contribs) 19:29, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I think "providence" and "word" are, in the end, matters of choice. I usually capitalize them myself, to make it clear I am referring to the religious concepts. Awadewit (talk) 19:51, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
"Word" I could go either way on, given the MOS, but is there a non-religious concept of providence? It seems like an ordinary usage here, not a personalization of the concept or used as a substitute name for God himself. I searched a number of sources, e.g., Battle's modern translation of the Institutes,[5] Charles Hodge's systematics,[6] the Jewish Encyclopedia,[7] Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia,[8] Christian Cyclopedia,[9], Easton's Bible Dictionary,[10] etc., and none of them capitalize it in a situation like this. On the other hand the Catholic Encyclopedia[11] and the Encyclopedia Britannica[paid link] do capitalize it, and the CCEL copy of the Beveridge translation of the Institutes mixes caps with apparent arbitrariness even within a single chapter (different proofreaders?).[12] At best, capitalization of it is optional, and it seems more consistent with the rest of the article to lower case it so that it matches other doctrines, e.g., "predestination." --Flex (talk/contribs) 21:47, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I suppose the problem is that the books in which I have encountered the word "providence" are from the eighteenth century, so my penchant for capitalization probably comes from that century's typography. In the end, I'm not sure the capitalization matters, since this is undoubtedly one of those things that "helpful" editors will constantly change in the article. :) Awadewit (talk) 21:52, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Concerning "Providence" and "Church", the source of the text, Parker, uses capitals consistently. Not surprisingly, the MOS is somewhat contradictory on this issue. Looking at [13], it says that transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense also begin with a capital letter: Good and Truth. The "universal" Church would appear to fit that category; less so with Providence. I don't have a problem with "providence", but I think "Church" in the universal sense ought to be capitalised. --RelHistBuff (talk) 07:33, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
We're agreed. Any thought on "Word"? --Flex (talk/contribs) 18:31, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
If an appeal to an external authority is helpful, here is what the Chicago Manual of Style recommends [14] (subscription):
  • "Chicago urges a spare, “down” style in the field of religion as elsewhere."
  • capitalized: "names of deities", "alternative or descriptive names for God as supreme being" (incl. Providence)
  • often capitalized: "designations of prophets, apostles, saints, and other revered persons", "words for transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense, especially when used in a religious context" (Good; Beauty; Truth; the One)
  • not capitalized: "pronouns referring to God or Jesus"
  • "When used alone to denote organized Christianity as an institution, the church is usually lowercased (church and state, the early church, the church in the twenty-first century, the church fathers). Church is capitalized when part of the formal name of a denomination or congregation."
No word on Word, although it may fit into the "transcendent ideas" category. Lesgles (talk) 03:17, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Concerning the opening text in the Theology section, I have no problem in editing the original text stylewise so that it is better. However, there is something that ought to be transmitted from the sources which is missing in Flex's formulation, something that, I believe, is essential in the Theology section. Both Hesselink and Parker stressed this, but I will quote from Hesselink (slightly paraphrased): "Before proceeding to analyze the structure and nature of the Institutes, a common error must be corrected. That is, that Calvin is basically a man of one book, the Institutes and further, that one can grasp Calvin's theology by simply studying this classic. As Calvin himself points out in his preface to the final edition, the eventual purpose of this work was not only to provide a summary of Christian doctrine but also to be a guide to the Scriptures, and it should be read in conjunction with his commentaries." Parker added the importance of his sermons. I think this gentle "instruction" from Calvin is of interest for the general reader. --RelHistBuff (talk) 07:56, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

I think the first version nearly captures this with its "is developed in his biblical commentaries as well as his sermons and treatises." Perhaps changing the "but" to an "and" would make it better (also tweaked a bit further to make passive active, etc.):
Calvin develops his theology, the most enduring component of his thought, in his biblical commentaries as well as his sermons and treatises, and he gives the most concise expression of his views on Christian theology in his magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion.
How's that? --Flex (talk/contribs) 18:31, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
Since there have been no objections and since there was concurrence on a similar version above, I'll go ahead and apply these changes. --Flex (talk/contribs) 16:48, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
I still do not agree that the sentence completely reflects what the source says. The part on his intention as written in the preface is missing. Another sentence is needed so I suggest,
  • Calvin develops his theology in his biblical commentaries as well as his sermons and treatises and he gives the most concise expression of his views on Christian theology in his magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. He intended that the book be used as a summary of his views on Christian theology and that it should be read in conjunction with his Biblical commentaries.
--RelHistBuff (talk) 16:57, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
My thinking is that the sources say a lot of things we needn't cover here, and I still find the second sentence to be beside the point and nigh unto obvious (why would he write other books if he didn't wish them to be read?). Hence, while I would rather it be omitted, the wording is at least encyclopedic now, so I could live with it. I'll ping Awadewit. --Flex (talk/contribs) 19:11, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
This point about Calvin's view of the Institutes does seem important - that Calvin saw the Institutes as a summary of his theology is completely different than if later scholars deemed it a summary. For me, it justifies the space that the article spends on the Institutes in relation to the other writings. I think we should keep the sentence. Awadewit (talk) 22:04, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
I accept the will of the majority. --Flex (talk/contribs) 03:06, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Flipped the image; moved it right

  • I flipped the image; moved it right. Everyone happy? :-) Ling.Nut (talkWP:3IAR) 12:02, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Actually no. I think this is terrible. We don't alter quotations. We shouldn't alter images, either. Awadewit (talk) 16:17, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
  • I just want to comment on the "We don't alter quotations...[so] we shouldn't alter images..." part. Quotations can be altered with ellipses (...) to cut out part of a quote or brackets [] to insert new text into a quote. I think just flipping an image is on the same scale and should be allowed. Rreagan007 (talk) 17:14, 11 February 2009 (UTC)
  • But the reader immediately sees these alterations. This is not the case with flipping (clicking or mouse dragging to see the description is required). Flipping radically changes the entire image and the reader may not ever become aware that this has happened. Awadewit (talk) 00:33, 12 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Flipping an image has the exact same effect as looking at it through a mirror. I'd hardly call that a radical change. I do see your point about the change not being immediately apparent, but that could be taken care of by noting the change in the image caption. Rreagan007 (talk) 17:40, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

Flipped or not it belongs on the right. A.J.A. (talk) 20:28, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

I have to say I agree. I understand that some people think it looks odd to have an image looking away from the text, but on wikipedia it looks even more odd to have a left justified image in the lead section. And the MoS clearly says to "Start an article with a right-aligned lead image or InfoBox." See here. Rreagan007 (talk) 18:51, 14 February 2009 (UTC)
The MOS is conflicted - the "look towards text" contradicts "start an article with a right-aligned image". We have to decide what to do in these cases. We tried to find a different image, for example, but this is the best-known image of Calvin. I'm not sure why there is this need to violate principles of aesthetics to make all Wikipedia pages look absolutely identical. Such conformity only hurts articles, as it is conformity for the sake of conformity. Awadewit (talk) 22:36, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
"It is often prefereable..." takes lower precedence than "do it this way". A person arguing the other side could say the same thing about principles of aesthetics and uniformity. A.J.A. (talk) 20:30, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Why don't we just use another image (say, this one) and have done with it? Lockesdonkey (talk) 04:01, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Also, I don't find it in the least bit annoying that Calvin isn't "facing the text," and frankly, you'd be hard-pressed to find a whole lot of other people who do, either. On the other hand, the presence of a picture on one side of the page when every other page in Wikipedia has it on the other would be rather jarring for an experienced user of Wikipedia (why else would you have had to insert a commented-out message about the whole affair?) and the temptation of an experienced editor would be to move it, regardless of which way the man is facing. Also, innumerable pages have broken the "regarding text" guideline (which I had never heard of until I ran into this dispute) in order have the image in the upper-right-hand corner; I can think of Adam Smith and Aaron Burr, and these are just articles I read today. Sheesh. Lockesdonkey (talk) 04:15, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
There are good arguments on both sides. It might be good to bring these issues up on the relevant MOS talk page. I will do so once I have done some catch-up work. --RelHistBuff (talk) 07:12, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
This has all been brought up there before - several times. What you see in the MOS is the result of those discussions. Have you ever tried to change or clarify something in the MOS before? It is a nightmare. I don't have the stomach for that again. Awadewit (talk) 07:21, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
I was afraid that was the case. Just to insert my two cents on the suggested engraving image, IMO it is too basic and the best image ought to be used for the lead. The only thing that needs to be clarified is the right/left justification vs. the facing into text. I definitely prefer the latter taking priority. I am not very good at these policy/process discussions as I don't have the huge amount of time necessary to promote a particular opinion so maybe I should stay out of the MOS pages. --RelHistBuff (talk) 07:47, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Why is it that the simplest improvements produce intractable opposition without any discernible reason at all? The most recently stated reason is that "Calvin is not Calvinism", which is simply baffling. Infoboxes go in more than one article. That's the point. If Calvin is relevant to Calvinism, it belongs. A.J.A. (talk) 15:11, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

There are, I assume, many articles that are subtopics of Calvinism, and which could safely and appropriately be graced by the presence of an infobox in the lead. But "Calvin" is not a subtopic of "Calvinism". Calvin is not a subtopic of his own thought. Ling.Nut (talkWP:3IAR) 15:16, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
Calvin is notable because of Calvinism. A.J.A. (talk) 15:20, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
I'll make you a deal: If you absolutely will not listen to me, then I suggest that you revert me, and we'll just calmly sit and wait for others to come and revert you once again. I'm not being sarcastic or rude or challenging; I'm not trying to start an edit war. I won't revert again. It's just that I know the lit folks and art folks and... they will be opposed. Be sure to mention the infobox in your edit summary. Ling.Nut (talkWP:3IAR) 15:24, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
A.J.A., you brought up two issues. First is the right-left justification: further discussion on this should go to the MOS talk pages in order to clarify the contradictions. Once clarified, then all lead images would need to follow the MOS. Second is the infobox: here I agree with Ling.Nut. In any case, the Calvinism "box" is a template for "further reading" and is not really an infobox. If anything, Calvin could use a theologian infobox which I believe one exists, but note that infoboxes are not mandatory and in my opinion they are ugly and repeat information in the lead section. --RelHistBuff (talk) 15:29, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
There is no contradiction. There's only a contradiction if we have to use that one particular image in the lead -- we don't -- and if the face-the-text suggestion is equal to the initial right-alignment rule -- it isn't.
I've gone looking for a theologians template and there doesn't seem to be one, which seems like an omission. If you object so strongly to this one infobox you could have replaced it with the one on Christianity. In any case, this is hardly a serious reason to break the MoS. A.J.A. (talk) 15:55, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
I completely agree that the lead image on the right rule supersedes the face the text rule. The language in the MoS is clear when it says "Start an article with a right-aligned lead image or InfoBox." There are no exceptions or conditional language. Nor does the MoS anywhere say that a lead image can or should ever be on the left. In contrast, the face the text rule is really more of a strong suggestion as it says "It is often preferable to place images of faces so that the face or eyes look toward the text." It does not say an image must always face the text. Lead image on the right takes precedent under the current MoS. This article (and any other article with a lead image on the left) is in clear violation of the current MoS. If you want to be able to have a lead image on the left in this kind of situation then that is the debate that should take place on the MoS talk page. Rreagan007 (talk) 19:27, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
The theologian infobox template RelHistBuff mentioned may be {{Infobox Calvinist Theologian}}. FWIW, I find Rreagan007's argument persuasive, and I think the image right-alignment (or infobox placement) should take priority over looking at the text. I also agree that the image should not be flipped (that would make Calvin's bad side look like his good side ;-) ). The alternative is to find an image of Calvin that meets all the desiderata (e.g., there's a portrait by Titian that looks left -- see the bottom of this page). --Flex (talk/contribs) 20:04, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
Calvin is gazing at my phone - this kind of disregard for aesthetics makes Wikipedia look sloppy. Having him look off of the screen merely to establish conformity with other articles is slavish in inappropriate. The MOS is guideline for a reason - so that we can adjust in special instances, such as this one, when it is preferable to have the image on the left. Awadewit (talk) 04:37, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
As Flex points out, there are other images available, which means that this isn't really a special case. It almost looks like some here want the image on the left just to stand out from the other articles. A.J.A. (talk) 04:43, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
No, it is just that we want to use the most famous image of Calvin at the beginning of the article, which makes sense. There is nothing "wrong" with having the image on the left. Awadewit (talk) 04:45, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
You can't have this both ways. Earlier you were trying to argue that the image had to be on the left because the MoS says the image has to look toward the text and it's too hard to try to change the MoS. And now that it's pretty obvious that's not what the MoS requires you say that the MoS is just a guideline that you don't have to follow because you don't think it looks aesthetically pleasing to have Calvin looking at your phone. Rreagan007 (talk) 04:54, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

(undent) What about the Titian image that Flex pointed out? Ling.Nut (talkWP:3IAR) 04:50, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

I preferred the Flemish school image over Titian's for a few reasons. Firstly, it is well-known to the public as it graces the covers of the latest biographies of Calvin. It also follows other contemporary engravings giving a very familiar picture of Calvin. Titian's is a mystery to most of the public and would definitely confuse people when they see it on the lead. For those who are very familiar with Calvin, Titian's image is quite startling. Secondly, the provenance is known. I have found several references giving the owner, the reference to the Flemish school, and the approximate date (sixteenth century). I do not have those details for the Titian, although I assume that by digging around someone can obtain the data necessary for a proper source description page. Using it would be a terrible compromise though. Our priorities are really mixed up here if we use a not-so-well-known picture solely to satisfy MOS guidelines. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:04, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
If you like the current image so much then just move it over to the right. Rreagan007 (talk) 14:50, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
I also do not think it is wise to robotically following a guideline. In any case, another guideline supports its current position. Unless there is a policy decision to place all lead images to the right, we should allow for aesthetic judgments. --RelHistBuff (talk) 15:09, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Well then aesthetically I think that it looks better to have a lead image on the right. And please show me where the MoS says you can have a lead image on the left. Rreagan007 (talk) 15:11, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
You're right about Titian's image being startling, and perhaps it should be included for that reason alone. It is be a quite well-known artist, after all, and it doesn't have to go at the top. It's striking to me how different his various portraits look. With regard to pictures on biography covers, I searched "biography of john calvin" at Amazon, and a different image -- viz., this one -- seemed the most popular to me. --Flex (talk/contribs) 17:24, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes, the Titian should go somewhere in the article, but I don't have the source description info which is why I have not uploaded it. I have no idea about the other image; who made it and when? It doesn't look at all like any of the contemporary Calvin pictures. --RelHistBuff (talk) 17:53, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
According to these lecture slides (just under half way down), the cover portrait I mentioned is attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger painted around 1538 when Calvin was 29. I haven't been able to find a gallery or current location for it, and this is the highest res version I have found. I'm doing some more looking for it and the Titian. Again, it is remarkable how different he looks from image to image. --Flex (talk/contribs) 15:12, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Update: this site has a number of different Calvin images with source info. It says the Titian is located at the Reformed Church of France, Paris, France. --Flex (talk/contribs) 20:38, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Looks good. I think there is enough data to upload the two images. Both are very unusual and not well-known, but the fact that they are attributed to Titian and Holbein makes them interesting. --RelHistBuff (talk) 11:26, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Featured status and 500th anniversary Main page hopes

I nominated this article for featured status several months ago in hopes for it being promoted in time for Calvin's 500th birthday and being the TFA. It did not meet the criteria at the time and the nomination was withdrawn. Now that it is a featured article, I really hope this article can be the featured article of the day for July 10 2009 I will patrol the Main Page Requests page for a open slot this June and hope others will in case I miss one.--Ted-m (talk) 00:11, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

This should not be a problem with 6 points for a centennial anniversary. Raul intended that the centennials trump most other TFA nominations. --RelHistBuff (talk) 09:12, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
I agree this will be a good main page article for July 10 if its quality is maintained. Jonathunder (talk) 03:36, 31 March 2009 (UTC)


There seems to be something missing at the end of the section Final years: it ends with "On the following day, he was buried in an unmarked grave in a common cemetery.[54]". However, there is a marked grave of Calvin at the Cimetière des Rois in Geneva — I don't know if the grave was marked afterwards, if the body was moved or if something is unclear, but it seems that some information is missing. I don't have any reference book that would allow me find the answer on this, but I will be looking for more information — does anyone know anything ? Schutz (talk) 22:09, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Some information in an 1921 edition of the New-York Times: Calvin's secret grave is sought in Geneva. Schutz (talk) 22:12, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
I have returned the books to the library so I am going from my memory, but there were several sources that pointed out he was buried in an unmarked grave according to his final wishes (the primary source was Beza's biography). One source said that it was a shame that no one knows where he was buried. I was also aware that there is a claimed burial site at the Cimetière des Rois, but since no source mentioned this, I did not include this info. It is an interesting anecdote, but this "discovery" of Calvin's grave is likely to be controversial. --RelHistBuff (talk) 22:30, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for your quick reply; I am trying to dig out more information on this (it's mainly personal interest — it may indeed simply be an anectode not worth being mentioned in the article). It seems to be an interesting story, though, and since a grave exists and is presented officially as the real one (by the Swiss authorities), it'd be nice to get to the bottom of it and mention the situation in the article (even if only to say "there is a grave, but it remains controversial"). A search of the archives of a newspaper of Geneva yields a article similar (but slightly more detailed) than the one in the New-York Times, but, surprisingly, very little followup. It may well be that over the years, it became "known" to the population that this was the real grave, even though no real research was done on the topic. All the best, Schutz (talk) 06:49, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
An anonymous IP editor added some text and a link to the BBC concerning his grave. There is a lot of publicity about the grave now as they recently moved the remains of a well-known prostitute to the Cimetière des Rois. I think the mention of the supposed location of Calvin's grave could be included, but it should be supported by a solid reference, i.e., an academic book or paper and not just a news report. --RelHistBuff (talk) 15:55, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, this was a semi-big story recently in Geneva (semi, because the "controversy" died down pretty quickly). In any case, I have found a couple of references about the cemetery, and have ordered a book which may shed some light on the issue. Incidentally, I should be in Geneva tomorrow, just next door to the cemetery, and will try to take a picture or two (would be nice to have on commons, regardless of the issue of the controversy here). Schutz (talk) 19:52, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Ok, this is the result of my investigations, looking at a couple of books, and emailing an historian in Geneva:

  • Calvin was indeed buried at the Cimetière de Plainpalais (the official name of the Cimetière des Rois); this in said explicitely by Theodore Beza when he describes Calvin's funeral.
  • The grave was indeed unmarked
  • Around 1850, a place was marked as Calvin's grave, and since then, has been the "traditional" grave
  • It seems that the pressure foreigners who were looking for the grave was one reason for the grave to be marked.

I'll try to add some of this information of this article (although my sources are all in French, unfortunately), plus a picture I took yesterday. Schutz (talk) 21:22, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

I believe Cottret mentioned the Cimetière de Plainpalais by quoting Beza but Cottret did not make the link to the Cimetière des Rois. As long as the source is solid, it does not matter if it is in French. But the 1850 dating seems to contradict the NY Times article... --RelHistBuff (talk) 22:03, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
"Cimetière de Plainpalais" was (and remains) the official name, so it is likely that someone not local would not make the link to "Cimetière des Rois". Now for the dating: A traditional location was known (and marked by the stone in 1850), but there is no indication about where the information originally came from. The location indicated in 1921 (the one mentioned in the New York Times) was never fully investigated; the comitee in charge decided not to open any grave, out of respect for Calvin wishes for an unmarked grave. Later comments indicate that it was important for people to have a well-defined place representing Calvin's grave, but that the exact location was not so important.
I have modified the article to include some of this information (feel free to improve), but I don't think these details need to be added; anyway, I am happy to send you copies of the relevant sources if you are interested. Schutz (talk) 22:41, 18 March 2009 (UTC)