Best bio of Calvin?

Men, theological student in Europe would like to know what I’d suggest for bio of Calvin. Any suggestions, please? A few words about them might help me make a recommendation. Thanks for your help.


I’m not, and never have been, in seminary, but I have always enjoyed biographies and have read a good number of them. I can hardly vouch for these being the best, but 2 that I’ve profitted from have been:

This is very well written, and therefore enjoyable to read. It focuses on Calvin’s pastoral ministry. Lawson’s goal was to provide modern day pastors an example worth emulating in John Calvin, and so he focuses on John Calvin the pastor, and draws attention to some areas of Calvin’s life and work that rarely seem to be discussed.


The intention of Godfrey’s biography seems to be a bit broader than Lawson’s, but the focus is very much on Calvin the minister of the Word, and is often inspiring.

There may well be better bios out there, but I found these two instructive, humbling, and good reading (esp. Lawson’s). I think they would be beneficial for any student looking to enter ministry to read.


It’s out of print, but I love this little bio.

Calvin: A Life, by Emanuel Stickelberger.

It is short, easy to read, and very helpful…especially in understanding the Libertines in Geneva and the Servetus affair.

Hey Stephen, send it to Toby, pls.

1 Like

I’m a little surprised Scott Manetsch’s Calvin’s Company of Pastors hasn’t been mentioned yet. Not strictly speaking a bio of Calvin himself alone and more a bio of his consistory and their pastoral practice, but it’s certainly helpful in getting a bit of perspective on Calvin himself and his context. (And the price has come down quite a bit since it first came out!)


Great book.

1 Like

I have bought this book in the original German, if the person is interested, I can send it to him.