Jason Zuidema has written a thrilling account of William Farel’s life and challenges the classic thinking that a worn-out Farel handed over to Calvin in Geneva. Although Farel was some twenty years older than Calvin he was an intellectual giant and continued to be a major influence in the Reformation process. Farel was born in 1489 and in the 1520’s was one of the first French speakers to echo Luther’s critique of the Roman Catholic church, having arrived at his own conclusions by simply reading Scripture. He saw this as a work of God’s grace and soon developed a passion to spread the Gospel to other French-speaking lands. By 1528 he had produced the first draft of a French Reformed liturgy and other works soon followed. By 1532 Farel was in Geneva, where he would meet Calvin in 1536 and by God’s grace be the main agent in Calvin’s call to the city. Calvin described it in his Preface to his commentary on the Psalms:
. . . . Farel detained me at Geneva, not so much by counsel and exhortation, as by a dreadful imprecation, which I felt to be as if God had from heaven laid his mighty hand upon me to arrest me.
Jason Zuidema (Ph.D., McGill University) is Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Theological Studies, Concordia University, Montreal. His books and articles focus mainly on French-speaking Church history from the Reformation to the 21st century. Jason and his family are members of the Église réformée du Québec.