Original Research

Calvin as an exegete of Scripture: a few remarks with reference to Calvin research in general

V. E. d’Assonville
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 44 | a185 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v44i0.185 | © 2010 V. E. d’Assonville | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 July 2010 | Published: 26 July 2010

About the author(s)

V. E. d’Assonville, Department of Ecclesiology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa & Akademie für Reformatorische Theologie, Hanover, Germany

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Calvin did not start his famous vocation as an interpreter of Scripture with Scripture itself. After a thorough training in interpreting classical literature as a philologist, he made his debut before turning 23, with a highly respected commentary on Seneca’s “De Clementia”. His focus shifted to Scripture shortly thereafter. Certain features of his exegetical approach as part of his “Word of God theology” can thus be observed, especially as they relate to his use of the concept of “doctrina”. His exegesis used not only the principle of “sola Scriptura” as point of departure, but also the principle of “tota Scriptura”, i.e. to take the whole of Scripture into account when expositing a certain biblical text. For Calvin the original intention of the writer of a particular (Bible) book is of crucial importance. The exegesis should be done using a sound theological-methodological, historical-grammatical method. Knowledge of the original lang- uages of Scripture is therefore a prerequisite for any exegesis. In his exegesis Calvin emphasises the point that Scripture as the Word of God and the Holy Spirit cannot be separated. As the truth is simple, Calvin avoids any traces of allegory in his exegetical activities and aims to keep his exegesis and ex- position of Scripture simple, brief, clear and understandable – exegesis should always exhibit the quality of clarity and brevity. In all exegesis, Scripture as the Word of God should be accepted as the final authority on any issue, not the church as institute.


Calvin; Calvin Research; Doctrina; Exegete Or Exegesis; Methodology; Scripture


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