Original Research

The death of a leader: Calvin commenting on Joshua in the last year of his life (1563)

Erik A. De Boer
Koers - Bulletin for Christian Scholarship/Bulletin vir Christelike Wetenskap | Vol 79, No 4 | a2173 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koers.v79i4.2173 | © 2014 Erik A. De Boer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 March 2014 | Published: 04 December 2014

About the author(s)

Erik A. De Boer, Centre for Digital Primary Sources, Jonathan Edwards Centre Africa, South Africa; History of the Reformation, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands


In the early modern period the testament, death, burial and funeral orations of public figures were often registered carefully. Such accounts told the story of the esteem in which the leaders were held, as the example of Martin Luther shows. While the account of John Calvin’s demise seems simpler, in his case the story of his dying days is focused on his farewell addresses. The surviving manuscripts of Calvin’s contributions to the Bible study of Joshua in 1563–1564 testify to his awareness of his mortality. How did he, their moderator, address the Company of Pastors in the course of their treatment of the book of Joshua in the weekly congrégations during the last year of his life? Both the end of the Pentateuch Harmony and the Joshua commentary cover farewell speeches of Israel’s leaders. Did Calvin compare the Old Testament prophets and leaders with the preachers of Geneva? The academic discussion of Calvin’s perception of himself as a prophet is taken up in the discussion of his self-awareness in the last year of collegial exposition of the Bible.


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