To those following A Modest Calvin Catechism Blog, Kim Burgess sent me the informative and important note below.


As to the origin of Calvin’s “Geneva Catechism”, W. Stanford Reid, an old noted Calvin scholar, says in his article on the subject in The New International Dictionary of the Christian church (1978; p. 405) that it first was composed by Calvin in 1537 which would put it in the first period of Calvin’s work in Geneva and shortly before he and William Farel were banished from the city in 1538. It was upon Calvin’s return to Geneva in 1541 at the srong behest of the desperate Genevans that Calvin more or less picked right up where he had left off there in 1538. As the first edition of his catechism was somewhat “verbose” (so says Reid), Calvin revised and simplified it so as to make it (in more common parlance today) “user-friendly”. This 1541 edition of the Geneva Catechism was in French, but he published it in Latin too in 1545. John T. McNeill, another highly-noted Calvin scholar and the editor of the definitive (i.e., Ford Lewis Battles’) edition of the Institutes confirms the above-given dates on page 204 of his The History and Character of Calvinism. 1560, but four years short of Calvin’s death in 1564, is thus far too late a date for the Geneva Catechism — an educative instrument that Calvin explicitly designed as a cardinal aid to establish and organize the reformation in Geneva. By 1560, Calvin’s work was largely done and his battles against his principle enemies there largely won. The date of 1560 actually belongs instead to the Scots Confession written by John Knox on his return to his homeland from Geneva to begin the Reformation there in earnest.

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