(1509 - 1564) France
Reformer, and theologian
Oxford historical theologian and principal of the evangelical Wycliffe Hall, Alister McGrath, reviews The Early Reformation on the Continent by Owen Chadwick in the Times Literary Supplement (June 14). Noting that Calvin "attracted eulogy and vilification in equal measure," McGrath writes:
"Jerome Bolsec, with whom Calvin crossed swords in 1551, went on to publish a scurrilous (but highly entertaining) life of Calvin in 1577. His subject, according to Bolsec, was irredeemably tedious and malicious, bloodthirsty and frustrated. He treated his own words as if they were the word of God, and allowed himself to be worshipped by his followers.
"In addition to frequently engaging in homosexual activity, he had an undiscriminating habit of indulging himself sexually with any female within walking distance. Thus, according to Bolsec, Calvin resigned his benefices at Noyon on account of the public exposure of his homosexuality."
According to McGrath:
"Bolsec's biography makes much more interesting reading than the more deferential biographies of Theodore Beza [Calvin's cohort who was, himself, accused of homosexuality] and Nicolas Colladon."
In Leiden historian Alastair Hamilton's review of Bernard Cottret's new Calvin biography (in the same issue of the Times Literary Supplement), he grants that
"Despite the number of studies and biographies which continue to appear on John Calvin, the man himself remains elusive." He affirms: "Calvin is all but entirely concealed behind his theological writings."