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Journal > Volumes > 41 (2010) / 2 (Summer)
Calvin’s Mosaic Harmony: Biblical Exegesis and Early Modern Legal History
Barbara Pitkin
Stanford University

This article examines Calvin’s commentary on Exodus through Deuteronomy (1563) through the lens of sixteenth-century historical jurisprudence, exemplified in the works of François de Connan and Fran.ois Baudouin. Recent scholarship has demonstrated how Calvin’s historicizing exegesis of the Bible is in continuity with broader trends in Christian biblical interpretation in the late medieval period and the sixteenth century. Yet comparatively little work has been done on this other, essential context for understanding Calvin’s hermeneutic. The intermingling of historical narrative and legal, doctrinal material inspired Calvin to apply his historical hermeneutic more broadly and creatively in order to explain the Mosaic histories and prescriptions for the ancient Israelites and for pious contemporary readers. Calvin’s unusual and unprecedented arrangement of the material and his attention to the affiliation between law and history resonate with what Anthony Grafton describes as a “new key” of history reading and writing and reveal Calvin’s engagement with his generation’s quest for historical method.

Pages: 441 - 466