Calvin’s Sermons Sold as “Waste Paper”

It is painful to think of how many of John Calvin’s sermons were lost over the years. One wonders what troves of treasure were lost as trash:

Over 2,000 of Calvin’s sermons have been preserved. Unfortunately many others have been lost. Bouwsma comments on this point:

Not all Calvin’s sermons have yet been published; many, indeed, have disappeared. Early in the nineteenth century the pastor in charge of the Bibliothèque de Genève where they were stored sold most of the volumes of Calvin’s manuscript sermons ‘by weight,’ that is, presumably as waste paper; and although some were eventually recovered, about a thousand were permanently lost.

This painful and tragic story has been told in various places; for an account in English the reader ought to consult the work of T. H. L. Parker.

John D. Currid, Calvin and the Biblical Languages (Fearn, Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2006), 22.

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