Antoine de Chandieu

The Silver Horn of Geneva's Reformed Triumvirate

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Theodore G. Van Raalte
Oxford Studies in Historical Theology
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , September
     376 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Antoine de Chandieu is significant as a French Reformed theologian, poet, and educator in inverse proportion to his fame. Quite literally, he is the French Calvinist no one has ever heard of. A prolific writer, he lived from 1534 to 1591. In addition to works on theology and church polity, he wrote contemporary poetry popular enough to have been set to music, a martyrology, and a stage play. Having been raised a French nobleman, Chandieu lived on his family estates in France, Lausanne, and Geneva. However, during the Wars of Religion—which ravished his French homeland and the lives of both Catholic and Calvinist alike—he lived as a French Huguenot. 

The fact that Chandieu has been overlooked will come as an even greater surprise once one considers the sub-title of Theodore van Raalte’s excellent study, Antoine de Chandieu: The Silver Horn of Geneva's Reformed Triumvirate, and asks what is behind the phrase “Silver Horn?” The phrase refers to the periods of time in Geneva when poets mourned the end of their marvelous predecessors; they would reminisce about Geneva's Reformed triumvirate of gold, silver, and bronze: gold representing John Calvin (who died in 1564); silver Chandieu; and bronze Theodore Beza (who died in 1605). As it happens, Beza has been the subject of modern era research for decades, having recently had a number of monographs dedicated to his life and work. This fact should fill us with anticipation about what awaits when—motivated by van Raalte’s monograph—scholars turn a more serious eye on Chandieu.

Van Raalte’s study of Chandieu helps to fill the lacuna in scholarship on the French and Genevan Reformations, as well as making a significant contribution to other areas including Renaissance educational thought and post-Reformation Aristotelianism. The chapters of this study convey the various areas in which Chandieu wielded influence. Following the introduction, chapter 2 serves as a biographical chapter; chapter 3 examines scholasticism and humanism; ecclesiastical architecture is looked at in chapter 4; chapter 5 revives Aristotle; the benefits of the scholastic method is covered in chapter 6; faith and scripture in chapter 7; the redevelopment of questio disputata is addressed in chapter 8; chapter 9 is an examination of the hypothetical syllogism; and finally, the Renaissance and Reformation theology is discussed in chapter 10. The book contains three appendices that include the publications of Antoine de Chandieu (appendix 1); the organization and structure of the Opera Theologica, which represents carefully-crafted disputations that were published posthumously in five editions between 1592 and 1620 (appendix 2); and a schematic diagram outlining the structure of the Confirmation de la discipline ecclesiastique, the form of discipline drafted by Chandieu for the French churches in 1566. It served Reformed churches in France and was an important document for French Calvinism (appendix 3).

While there are a number of ways in which this study contributes to scholarship, one important way that it does this is by providing analysis of one of the key figures that links Calvin with later Reformed scholasticism. There was a complaint made in the second-half of the 20th century by scholars such as R.T. Kendall, M. Charles Bell, and (more significantly) T.F. Torrance that later Calvinists departed significantly from the theology of John Calvin. This departure was treated by them as a betrayal of Calvin’s thought and of the Reformation. This complaint became something of a circus until it was obliterated by Richard Muller and Paul Helm, among others. Though a relic of the previous century, among scholars it has left an interest in the intellectual developments which link Calvin and Reformed scholasticism. Van Raalte’s superb study provides scholars with thoughtful consideration of the character of these developments. Chandieu’s life and work focused, among other things, on developing elaborate forms of the medieval quaestio disputata (which was a specific way of discussing theological and philosophical questions). He also made liberal use of hypothetical syllogisms, a form used in constructing a logical argument. This volume provides the reader with detailed analysis of Chandieu’s thinking in these areas and illuminates important aspects of Reformed thought. 

Antoine de Chandieu: The Silver Horn of Geneva's Reformed Triumvirate is a brilliant volume. The only critiques this reviewer can find in van Raalte’s study relate to some of the scholarship with which he interacts. In places, he depends heavily on the work of Muller—who is an absolutely superb scholar. But when, for instance, van Raalte discusses a subject like Renaissance humanism, this reviewer suggests he might have also leaned on scholars like Paul O. Kristeller, Charles Nauert, Erika Rummel, and Anthony Grafton. All of these appear occasionally in van Raalte’s study, but not as frequently as I would have expected. This complaint is such a minor one that it is easily smothered by numerous aspects of the sharp, perceptive, rigorous scholarship contained in this superb work.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Jon Balserak is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern Religion at thr University of Bristol.

Date of Review: 
February 28, 2019
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Theodore G. Van Raalte is Professor of Ecclesiology at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary in Hamilton, ON, having earned his Ph.D. in historical theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in 2013. His areas of research and publication include not only Antoine de Chandieu, but also Guillaume Farel, the Reformation in the Swiss Cantons, the French Reformed Churches, and certain pseudonymous works of the period.


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