Calvin’s Geneva

William G. Naphy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Citations (Scopus)


To most visitors today, Geneva is a respectable, prosperous, staid city resting at the end of Lake Geneva where the Rhône River pours forth to begin its rush to the sea. The city is Swiss, neutral, and a center for international diplomacy. In the mind it is associated with peace conferences and conventions designed to protect the weak and vulnerable. However, this was not the city in which Calvin ministered. More than just the passing years have moved across the face of Geneva. In Calvin's day the city was smaller, less secure, and decidedly isolated. It was a locale facing the constant threat of armed assault. It was over-crowded and stuffed with refugees. And it was poor. Most surprising of all for most people today to realize is that Geneva was not Swiss. Indeed, Geneva did not enter the Helvetic Confederation until the end of the Napoleonic Wars. For most of the years between its independence in 1535 and its entry into the Swiss state, Geneva did not even share a border with Switzerland. Thus, any real appreciation of Calvin's ministry in Geneva must begin with a realistic understanding of the environment in which he labored. What was his parish like? What was Geneva like?

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to John Calvin
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781139000017
ISBN (Print)9780521816472
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press, 2004 and Cambridge University Press, 2006.


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