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Calvin’s «Theodicy»and the Hiddenness of God

Calvin’s «Sermons on the Book of Job»

Series:

Paolo De Petris

Calvin’s Theodicy has been substantially ignored or simply negated until now on the assumption that the issues raised by the modern problem of evil and Calvin’s discussion of providence and evil would be different. The unspoken premise underlying this conviction is that theodicy is a modern problem, since earlier formulations in no way attempted to justify God’s actions.
This book goes decisively in the opposite direction. It aims to understand the core of Calvin’s Theodicy and to demonstrate that one of the most important reasons that prompted Calvin to preach for almost 2 years 159 Sermons on the Book of Job was to «vindicate» God’s justice by demonstrating the meaningfulness of God’s activity in human life.
After examining the status of the recent research on Calvin’s Theodicy, this work studies the steps that led the French reformer to his insights and the drafting of the Sermons. Further, it studies the juridical framework of Calvin’s defence of the justice of God. Finally, the author analyses the answers given by Calvin to the problem of human anguish: Why do innocent people suffer? In what way one can still believe in an Omnipotent God?

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XI Contents Introduction...............................................................................................1 Chapter I Calvin’s Theodicy and his Sermons on Job: The State of the Research .........................................................................7 1.1 Introduction: The terms of the Theodicy problem..........................7 1.2 The current state of interpretation on Calvin’s Theodicy .............13 1.3 The current state of interpretation concerning the Sermons on Job ...........................................................................38 Chapter II The Origin and Development of Calvin’s Thought ...............................51 2.1 De Clementia (1532) ...................................................................51 2.2 Calvin’s conversion (1532-1534) ................................................55 2.3 Psychopannychia (1534) .............................................................63 2.4 The Institutes of Christian Religion of 1536 ...............................67 2.5 Instruction in Faith of 1537 ........................................................77 2.6 The Institutes of Christian Religion of 1539 ...............................80 2.7 Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans ..................................91 2.8 Defense for Guillaume de Fürstenberg and Défense de Guillaume Farel et de ses collègues contre les calomnies du théologastre Pierre Caroli par Nicolas Des Gallars ..............93 2.9 Bondage and Liberation of the Will ............................................93 2.10 Against the fantastic and furious Sect of the Libertines ..............95 2.11 Calvin in the Valley of the Shadow of Death ...............................99 2.12 Congrégation sur l’Election Éternelle ......................................106 2.13 De Aeterna Dei Praedestinatione (1552) ..................................108 2.14 The 159 Sermons on the Book of Job .........................................114 2.15 Predestination consequence of Providence or Providence consequence of Predestination? .................................................119 Chapter III The juridical framework of Calvin’s Theodicy ....................................125 3.1 Defence or Theodicy? ................................................................125 XII 3.2 The metaphor of lawsuit ............................................................133 3.3 Calvin’s dilemma in the lawsuit between God and man ...........138 3.4 Calvin’s empathy with Job ........................................................158 3.5 Lawsuit against God? ................................................................167 Chapter IV Landmarks of Calvin’s...

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