An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Calvin and the Body by Alida Sewell

Calvin and the Body
An Inquiry into his Anthropology
Alida Leni Sewell
VU University Press, 2011
ISBN 978 90 8659 587 7
viii + 269pp; pbk

This doctoral dissertation from Dr Alida Sewell:

 addresses Calvin's view of the human body as it comes to expression in his writings and sermons. After situating Calvin in the context of his education and culture, particular attention is paid to his frequent use of the metaphor of the body being the 'prison of the soul.' In all, 91 occurrences of his use of the metaphor are documented in chronological order in the Appendix. The possibility of direct or indirect Platonic influences is examined, as well as the eschatological meaning that Calvin assigns to the metaphor. Contemporaneous medical theories are explained and it is shown how Calvin appropriated them in his theology and general writings. The state of Calvin's own bodily health is discussed, mainly with reference to his correspondence. Attention is also paid to his attitude to death, dying, and burial. An important aspect of his theological anthropology is his teaching on the image of God in humankind, which is examined with respect to both men and women. The subsequent chapters deal with his views on marriage and childbirth, sexuality and gender, and nakedness and shame. For the present-day reader these reveal some surprising as well as disappointing views that Calvin held. However, in the context of his time they were not extreme, and some were in advance of his time. In the final chapters a more theological appraisal is given of Calvin's views as they were presented in the previous chapters and conclusions are presented. 
This is an important work and will be of intrest not only to Calvin scholars but all those interested in gender, marriage, nakedness and the body (that should include all of us!).

Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Context, Culture, and Education
Chapter Three: Calvin's Use of the Prison Metaphor
Chapter Four: Calvin's Adoption of Current Medical Theories and His Experience and Perception of His Own Physical Self
Chapter Five: The Image of God
Chapter Six: Marriage in Theory and Practice
Chapter Seven: Sexuality and Gender
Chapter Eight: Nakedness and Shame
Chapter Nine: The Body at Creation, after the Fall, and at the Resurrection
Chapter Ten: Conclusions
Calvijn en het lichaam: een onderzoek naar zijn antropologie

No comments: