Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why write a Commentary - Calvin's View!

When time allows I'm working through Colossians which is rip roaring fun. In the mornings I'm reading through a plethora of Reformed commentaries on Romans and preparing class notes for August. I was much inspired by Calvin's justification for writing another commentary on Romans despite the fact that Melanchthon, Bullinger, and Bucer had done so recently as well. This is what Calvin had to say: ‘Since so many scholars of pre-eminent learning have previously devoted their efforts to explaining this Epistle, it seems unlikely that there is any room left for others to produce something better … It will, however, I hope, be admitted that nothing has ever been so perfectly done by men that there is no room left for those who follow them to refine, adorn, or illustrate their work. I do not dare to say anything of myself, except that I thought that the present work would be of some profit, and that I have been led to undertake it for no other reason than the common good of the Church’. I'm certainly glad he did!


Dirk Jongkind said...

I believe Calvin when he says that he undertook this 'for no other reason than the common good of the Church'. However, I am slightly more sceptical about the current situation in which there might be an element present in some of the commentators who may be also concerned with the financial reward, their publication record, and the seeking of some sort of reputation. Interesting notion, though, 'the common good of the Church'.

sujomo said...

Hi Mike,

Great to see you mention the name Bullinger.

Do your readers know that in the preface of Bullinger's complete edition of the interpretation of Paul's letters is the following?

"First of all, we would like to point out, dear reader, that we have no written laws, but commentaries, which one must verify, and may not be considered as divine oracles. The Bible is the only measuring stick for the truth. Where then, you notice that I have not been quite correct in my interpretation, lay my commentary aside and follow the Bible".

cheers, sujomo