The Unaccommodated Calvin: Studies in the Foundation of a Theological Tradition

By Richard A. Muller | Go to book overview

Institutes, both in Latin and in French, from 1536 to 1590, have been examined in preference to modern critical editions.

I have also availed myself of the standard translations—the often cited McNeillBattles translation of Calvin's Institutes and the multivolume translation of the commentaries, tracts, treatises, and letters, undertaken in the nineteenth century by the Calvin Translation Society. I find the more recent translation of Calvin's commentaries on the New Testament less than satisfactory, and I have not used it in the present volume. I have also consulted the older translations of the Institutes, namely those of Norton, Allen, and Beveridge, in view of both the accuracy of those translations and the relationship in which they stand to the older or “precritical” text tradition of Calvin's original. Both in its apparatus and in its editorial approach to the text, the McNeillBattles translation suffers from the mentality of the text-critic who hides the original ambience of the text even as he attempts to reveal all of its secrets to the modern reader.

Profound thanks go to David C. Steinmetz, of Duke University, and to Susan E. Schreiner, of the University of Chicago. Both read the manuscript with considerable discernment at various stages of its progress, and both listened with care and careful critique to many of the musings that were eventually incorporated in the book. John L. Thompson, of Fuller Theological Seminary, has placed me deeply in his debt with his discerning reading of the book and his insightful suggestions in matters of form and content. There are times when John has the ability to frame my thoughts far more adroitly than I can. To my friend and colleague Timothy J. Wengert, I offer profound thanks for our fruitful dialogue about another far more significant conversation—the theological conversation that went on between John Calvin and Philip Melanchthon— and for the impact of our dialogue on this book. Indeed, I have drawn from him my use of the term “conversation” as a way of describing theological and exegetical interchange. To Raymond A. Blacketer, my graduate assistant, I also owe a deep note of appreciation for an ongoing, discerning dialogue on many of the ideas and issues reflected in the following pages. Colleagues at the University of Utrecht and at the Free University of Amsterdam receive my thanks for their most helpful reflections on chapters 3 and 6.

I also must offer my thanks to Paul Fields and Karin Maag, respectively the curator and director of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies at Calvin College and Seminary in Grand Rapids, for their help in obtaining and using materials related to the study of Calvin and Calvinism. The many rare editions of the Institutes and of other works of Calvin examined in the following chapters were made available to me at the Meeter Center, as were virtually all of the older monographs and essays needed for my work. I also offer thanks to the editors at Oxford, particularly to my virtuoso copyeditor Jeri Famighetti—her work has clarified the line of argument in many places and has removed a host of minor problems. Finally to my wife, Gloria, go the profoundest thanks of all, for supporting and sustaining me during so many times and in so many places. Without her, there would be no book at all.

Grand Rapids, Michigan December 1998

-ix-

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