DISCIPLINE AND IGNORANCE IN CALVIN’S GENEVA

by SCOTT M. MANETSCH in Vol. 3 No. 2 / Oct 2017



Abstract
Founded by John Calvin in 1542, the Genevan consistory was a disciplinary court made up of pastors and lay elders that oversaw public morality and enforced right belief in the city church. Although scholars of early modern Europe have explored in detail the various functions of this religious institution, inadequate attention has been paid to its important pedagogical role. This essay explores the various strategies that Calvin’s consistory employed to correct religious ignorance and inculcate Protestant belief among the city inhabitants. Based on quantitative analysis of extant Genevan disciplinary records from 1542 to 1609, it will be argued that Calvin’s consistory was largely successful in reshaping Geneva’s religious culture and imparting a deeper understanding of reformed Christianity to many children and adults.


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