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The Best Biographies of some Great Saints

Looking for a biography of a famous Christian either to give as a gift or to read yourself in 2010? Dr. Don Lewis, Secretary of the Anglican Studies Program at Regent College in Vancouver, has several recommendations:


On Augustine (354-430), the best is still probably Augustine of Hippo by Peter Brown -- get his recently revised edition of 2000.

On Calvin (1509-1564), there’s John Calvin: A Sixteenth-Century Portrait by William J. Bouwsma (Paperback 1989).  Alister McGrath's A Life of John Calvin: A Study in the Shaping of Western Culture is excellent as well. 

On Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), read The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci by Jonathan Spence. Ricci was an Italian Jesuit who went to China as a missionary and introduced the Chinese to Western mathematics.  

On John Wesley (1703-91), try H.D. Rack’s Reasonable Enthusiast -- it is a scholar's take on the founder of Methodism.  

On John Newton (1725-1807), Bruce Hindmarsh is great. John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition isn't exactly a standard biography in a popular genre--but is excellent nonetheless.  

On Wm. Wilberforce (1759-1833), I would recommend John Pollock's biography, Wilberforce: God’s Statesman. William Hague has written William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner and while I’ve not yet read it, it seems to have been well received.

On the social reformer, The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (1801-1885), John Pollock is again good. Try Shaftesbury: The Poor Man's Earl. Pollock is an evangelical Anglican minister and does great work on everyone he takes on.  Those wanting a thorough scholarly treatment of the remarkable Earl should read Shaftesbury: A Life by Geoffrey Finlayson, which was recently reprinted in paperback by Regent College Publishing.

On John Stott (1921-), there is the two-volume authorized work John Stott: The Making of a Leader by Timothy Dudley-Smith, an evangelical Anglican bishop and hymn writer. 

For biographies of four remarkable women see the December 2009 issue.

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