William Farel lived his life as one of the magisterial Reformers in the shadow of John Calvin and for that reason has been little known. He 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. Farel saw this as a work of God s grace and soon developed a passion to spread the Gospel to other Frenchspeaking
lands. By 1528 he had produced the first draft of a French Reformed liturgy and other works soon followed. By 1532 he was in Geneva, where he would meet Calvin in 1536 and be by God s grace the main agent in Calvin s call to the city. Calvin described it in his Preface to his commentary on the Psalms: . . . . ‘Guillaume 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 has written a thrilling account of 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.