Friday, July 11, 2014

"John Knox" by Rosalind Marshall: A Review

One of my favorite Reformers is John Knox. Recently I picked up the biography John Knox by Rosalind K. Marshall and engulfed myself into the life of this reformer.  This is one of the better biographies of this sometimes ignored Reformer and most lists that include bibliographies on Knox include this book for good reason.

Like most good biographies, Marshall begins with the birth and childhood of Knox (which we know little of) and traces his steps as the historic record allows. Marshall has clearly done her homework referencing both primary and secondary works. Throughout the book we gain insight into his life through his letters, early biographies, and own writings along with the writings of his contemporaries and historians. One can come to this book with confidence that they are getting an accurate historic account into this man of God.

One of the things I loved about the book is the author's attempt to set the record straight. Like many controversial figures like Knox, there are a lot of misconceptions about the man. Marshall corrects the record on many of these issues regardless of what light Knox will be painted in. For example, she corrects the accusation that Knox was in an adulterous relationship - something Knox was accused of throughout his life and sought to correct the record himself near the end of his life. Likewise, Marshall points out that Mary, Queen of Scots may not have been as anti-Protestant as Knox and others have believed. I was certainly under the impression that she was very Catholic and anti-Protestant and thus Knox's vehement hatred of her understandable, but Marshall shows that while Mary was a devout Catholic, she wasn't the devilish Jezebel that Knox painted her as. Here we see Knox's stubbornness and the dangers of confusing politics and the gospel.

I really enjoyed this book and enjoyed diving into Knox's life - warts and all - and would recommend it to anyone seriously interested in studying him. Marshall isn't concerned so much with his theology, but with his life. There is a lot in here about the political scene because of Knox's involvement in it and there is much said about Knox's relationship with French Reformer John Calvin and others. So those wanting insight into Knox's theology will not find much here, but if one wants to know more about Knox the man, you will find plenty here to sink your teeth into.

For more:
"Scottish Theology" by T. F. Torrance: A Review
A Nestorian Heresy?: John Knox & His Rejection of Particular Redemption
"John Knox: An Introduction to His Life and Works" - A Review
"The Mighty Weakness of John Knox" by Douglas Bond: A Review
"John Knox & the Reformation" by M. Lloyd-Jones & Iain Murray: A Review
"John Knox" by Rosalind K. Marshall
Douglas Bond on the Legacy of John Knox
"The School of Faith" by Thomas F. Torrance: A Review
John Knox on the Threefold Office of Christ
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