SERMONS FROM JOB, John Calvin; Baker Book House, 1979; 300 pp., $4.95 (paper). (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko.)
John Calvin has long been known as one of the great, if not the greatest, theologians of the Reformation. What is not so well known is that Calvin was also an outstanding preacher and, in fact, considered himself, first of all, to be a preacher. This ignorance of Calvin the preacher is partly due to the lack of published sermons of Calvin. It is surprising that, after Calvin’s death, for the first fifty or sixty years, Calvin’s sermons were published in many languages, distributed far and wide and underwent many reprintings in many lands while his other works were comparatively ignored. Indeed, his sermons probably had greater influence than any of his other works in spreading the Calvin Reformation. But after the first half-century or so, this printing of Calvin’s sermons almost ceased and his other works increased in popularity. Once again, starting about a decade ago, Calvin’s sermons are being published. For this we may be grateful.
This book is made up of twenty of Calvin’s sermons on Job. The great reformer preached a total of 159 sermons on this book during the years 1554 & 1555 when he preached daily in Geneva. These sermons on Job are, in my opinion, some of the finest of all Calvin’s sermons. Here you find Calvin the superb exegete; Calvin the master of truly prophetic preaching; Calvin the theologian dedicated in all his work to the glory of God; and, not by any means least, Calvin the pastor. In fact this latter aspect of these sermons was particularly striking. We seldom think of Calvin as pastor of God’s sheep in Geneva. But these sermons make abundantly clear that he was indeed a pastor who understood the problems, sorrows, temptations, sins, and deep spiritual needs of his flock.
While these sermons are considerably different from the type of preaching to which we are accustomed — especially from a homiletical viewpoint — nevertheless, every minister of the Word will gain insight in how to preach from these sermons, and every pastor will learn at the feet of the great reformer of Geneva how to be a better shepherd in God’s sheepfold.
The book has the added value of an interesting and important introduction written by Harold Dekker on Calvin as preacher.
Yet, while the book is of value for every minister, every one of God’s people can easily read the book. The translation is generally excellent and the material easy to understand. I highly recommend this book to all our people. No one who reads it will go away unrewarded. It is Calvin the preacher at his best, and his sermons still speak to the heart.