Book Review: The Mighty Weakness of John Knox

John Knox was an absolute giant of the Reformation, and a staple of Reformed thought. Surprisingly, this is the first direct interaction I’ve had with Knox, beyond the occasional quote or reference in another work. In the Mighty Weakness of John Knox, Douglas Bond explores the life and contribution of John Knox as the catalyst and driving figure of the Scottish Reformation.

This book was all that you would expect from Reformation Trust’s Long Line of Godly Men series. It begins with a short biographical chapter, and then highlights a specific aspect or contribution in each subsequent chapter. It is written in a popular and approachable style, with a heavy dose of primary source quotes to demonstrate the point being made regarding Knox.

Having not read any other of the Long Line of Godly Men series books, I cannot speak of its writing style in light of the other entries. However, the common critique that this book has a dry and somewhat off-putting style seems to be apt. I found myself a bit glazed over in various places, and the long primary texts sometimes fell by the wayside as I rushed to the end of the chapter. Beyond the writing style, the text takes on an almost hagiographic tone as it seems to brush away any critique of Knox as a misunderstanding by critical opponents. While I understand that a critique of Knox is not the purpose of the text, the lauding of Knox combined with the dismissal of any critique was a bit overwhelming.

In addition, and this is more of a critique of popular writing in general, the usage of end notes rather than foot notes makes it tedious to observe the sources used. For someone looking for a book that serves as an entry into Knox studies, this book is not the place to look. Although there is an abundance of sources and citations, it is tedious to retrieve them for follow-up. For someone looking for a general overview but is not planning on following up with further study this is a decent place to go.

Please note: Reformation Trust / Ligonier Ministries has provided me with an electronic version of this book for review purposes, and will be providing me with a hard copy edition in exchange for this review. They do not require positive reviews, nor have they edited or modified this review in any way.