Calvin and the Resignification of the World: Creation, Incarnation, and the Problem of Political Theology in the 1559 ‘Institutes'

Cambridge University Press (2019)

Abstract
Calvin's 1559 Institutes is one of the most important works of theology that emerged at a pivotal time in Europe's history. As a movement, Calvinism has often been linked to the emerging features of modernity, especially to capitalism, rationalism, disenchantment, and the formation of the modern sovereign state. In this book, Michelle Sanchez argues that a closer reading of the 1559 Institutes recalls some of the tensions that marked Calvinism's emergence among refugees, and ultimately opens new ways to understand the more complex ethical and political legacy of Calvinism. In conversation with theorists of practice and signification, she advocates for reading the Institutes as a pedagogical text that places the reader in the world as the domain in which to actively pursue the 'knowledge of God and ourselves' through participatory uses of divine revelation. Through this lens, she reconceives Calvin's understanding of sovereignty and how it works in relation to the embodied reader. Sanchez also critically examines Calvin's teaching on providence and the incarnation in conversation with theorists of political theology and modernity who emphasize the importance of those very doctrines.
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