1st Edition

Early French Reform
The Theology and Spirituality of Guillaume Farel

ISBN 9781409418849
Published March 28, 2011 by Routledge
262 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Reminding us that the Genevan Reformation does not begin and end with John Calvin, this book provides an introduction to Guillaume Farel (1489-1565), one of several important yet often overlooked French-speaking reformers. Born in 1489 near Gap, France, Farel was an important first-generation French-speaking Reformer and one of the most influential early leaders of the Reform movement in what is now French-speaking Switzerland. Educated in Paris, he slowly began to question Catholic orthodoxy, and by the 1520s was an active protestant preacher, resulting in his exile to Switzerland. Part of Farel's aggressive work in this area brought him to Geneva several times, where in 1535 and 1536 he secured votes in favour of the Reform, and later in 1536 persuaded the young theologian John Calvin to stay. Farel also penned Geneva's confession of faith of that year and their ecclesiastical articles of the next. As such, this volume underlines the fact that Calvin entered the reform movement in Geneva in a situation in which Farel had been already deeply involved. To better understand that situation, the book is divided into two parts. The first provides a rich and nuanced portrait of Farel's early thought by way of interpretive essays; the second section offers translations of a number of Farel's key texts. These translations include some of the first widely-accessible full-length translations of Farel's work into English. Offering both a scholarly overview of Farel and his life, and access to his own words, this book demonstrates the importance of Farel to the Reformation. It will be welcomed not only by scholars engaged in research on French reform movements, but also by students of history, theology, or literature wishing to read some of the earliest theological texts originally written in French.



Jason Zuidema is Lecturer in Theological Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Concordia University, Canada. Theodore Van Raalte is a Ph.D. student at Calvin Theological Seminary, Michigan, USA.


'Anyone interested in Reformation history, especially in French-speaking lands, will profit greatly from reading this material, gaining in the process a more balanced understanding of the development of reform in Geneva and appreciating better one of its outstanding exponents.' Reformed Theological Journal 'Thanks to Jason Zuidema and Theodore Van Raalte’s Early French Reform: The Theology and Spirituality of Guillaume Farel ... students and scholars of the French Reformation now have good access to an important figure who was a key member of the early French Reformed milieu.' Journal of Modern History ’... Early French Reform is a welcome addition to the most important trend in Reformed studies in recent decades: the widening of investigations beyond John Calvin himself.’ Catholic Historical Review 'The last decades have witnessed awakened interest in Farel. Early French Reform is a fine example. It portrays Guillaume Farel (1489-1565) and his early work through essays and translations of primary-source texts... more than half of the book contains translations of Farel’s writings, a rich contribution, as these are some of the first widely accessible full-length translations of Farel into English.' Renaissance Quarterly 'Taking care to address the shortcomings they have found in previous translation efforts, Zuidema and Van Ralte have furnished faithful and artful English versions that bring to life an oft-neglected historical voice, making Farel’s theological contribution more widely accessible to scholars and students across disciplines with an interest in the sources and shape of early French Protestantism.' Sixteenth Century Studies '... Zuidema and Van Raalte’s book brings us some of the first full-length translations of Farel’s work in English. The second part of the book, in particular, is a real contribution to research and teaching, but the volume as a whole contributes to a better understanding of the Reformation in French-speaking Switz