Entries for May, 2009

Dizionario del Pensiero Cristiano Alternativo

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Or … an Italian site dedicated to a biographical and conceptual dictionary of non-Roman Catholic Christian thought. I ran across this when I found an entry referring to Voetius as a heretic. Needless to say I was curious, but not surprised (its web address is www.eresie.it). However, it is a little odd (for me at least) to see Protestantism classed with other heresies like donatism and adoptionism. The typical entry has a brief overview of the person’s life and major controversies as well as the doctrinal contributions. It is not limited to the Reformation but takes a diachronic approach since the apostles.

As to the Reformation in Italy, it was helpful to note several relatively unknown Italian reformers/martyrs who were classed as “calvinisti” due to either their training under Calvin or Beza at Geneva or their dissemination of Reformed thought in Italy. For example, Bartolomeo Bartoccio, Francesco da Bassano Negri, Alessandro Trissino, and Marcantonio Varotta. To read more go here.


Orbis Latinus et al: Resources for Latin Place Names

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

For those of you who are working through medieval, Reformation, and Renaissance texts, I am sure you will eventually run across a Latin place name for a European city. For example, which colloquium occurred at Mompelgardensium that Beza commented on? So here are a few extremely helpful resources for locating such places:

Medieval Latin Paleography

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Here are a few links that are extraordinarily helpful for working with the various “hands” of medieval paleography. 


Geerhardus Vos: Exhibit A

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I thought this was an odd bit of trivia, but at least interesting to know what was in the library of arguably one of the best biblical theologians of the modern era. I found this in Calvin Seminary’s copy of Friedrich Spanheim’s Opera in tome 2, bookmarking pages 913-914 on Sacraments in the Old Testament. It is a postcard from a bookseller in Philadelphia to Geerhardus Vos, postmarked August 1, 1891. Granted it is all circumstantial, he may have bought the book and never read it, he may have just stuck it in there (I did find some pressed flowers in another section among the leaves too!!), etc. etc. But like I said, at the very least, its interesting that this book was in his library.

Friderici Spanheimii F. F. Professoris Batavi Primarii Operum tomus-tertius. Lugduni-Batavorum: Boutestein, Luhtmans, du Vivie, Severino, 1701-1703.

Junius, Mastricht, and Ames on Vernacular Translations of Scripture

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I ran across this a while back and thought it would be good food for thought as a reminder to the broader Christian community to always “worry” over continuously improving their translations and versions of Scripture. As a supply preacher frequently invited to preach across the spectrum of Reformed denominations, I am often asked what the “best” version or translation of Scripture is. (Should we use the NIV, the KJV, the NASB, the ESV, the RSV, the TNIV, the NKJV, etc?) This is the sort of question after a service in a narthex over a cup of coffee that draws a crowd rather quickly. More often than not it is a well-intentioned question by believers seeking to mine the scriptures further after they have just heard a sermon using the breadth of both the Old and New Testament to focus upon a passage. I always want to handle these sorts of questions with care so that one’s confidence in the word of God is augmented while at the same time such confidence is not identified with a sectarian allegiance to a particular translation. And in these cases it is a joy and pleasure to be of assistance. 

In some cases, however, it seems that (more…)

Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Also for those of you who are looking for good, brief bibliographic information on Dutch theologians and figures, you definitely need to check out this page. (hope your Dutch is up to speed). These pages are also cross referenced with and linked to the Nieuw Nederlandsch biografisch wordenboek (~1937).

Some examples of theologians from the previous Marckius & De Moor post:

Johannes a Marck | Jacobus Trigland Sr. | Friedrich Spanheim

De Moor and Marckius

Friday, May 15th, 2009

By the way, for those of you interested in theologians propounding such points of Reformed orthodoxy as the covenant of works and the covenant of grace among other things in the 17th and 18th century, these seminary textbooks which were used primarily at Leiden are available on Google Books: 

Johannes Marckius, Christianae theologiae medulla didactico-elenctica (Philadelphia: J. Anderson, 1824) 

Marckius’ work was popular throughout the late 17th century, the copy that I have access to at Calvin Library actually has one page of printed text followed by a page (recto & verso) which is blank for student notes. Marckius points out that he is merely following in the footsteps of Triglandius Sr. and Friedrich Spanheim. Triglandius Sr. succeeded Andre Rivet (of Synopsis Purioris fame) to the chair of theology at Leiden, lecturing on theology, Old Testament exegesis, and cases of conscience, serving in that capacity from 1639-1650. Spanheim was trained at Heidelberg and Geneva from roughtly 1614 thorugh 1621. After a stint as a private tutor he returned to Geneva, served as a professor of philosophy in the university and eventually served in the academy of Geneva (the theology faculty) as its regent. In 1642 he became a professor of theology at Leiden and is noted for his written treatises and disputes with Moise Amyraut. Marckius work then can be seen as a synopsis of a Leiden flavor of Reformed theology. This work was later the subject of a commentary by Bernardinus De Moor that spans 7 volumes, of which a few are available on Google Books as well:

Bernardinus De Moor, Commentarius Perpetuus in Johannes Marckii Compendium Theologiae Christianae Didactico-Elenchticum (Lugduni-Batavorum: Johannes Hasebroek & Joannes Henricus van Damme, 1761- 1772).


Burgersdijck on the Efficient Causes of Virtue

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

The 17th century is one of the interesting historical periods for theologians and philosophers in regard to the tectonic shifts that occured on such topics as causality, virtue, the human will, and the knowledge of God. This post is not so much interested in the changes that would come via Descartes, Bacon, Wolff, and others, but rather in suggesting a baseline by which one should measure the changes and differences that would occur in the 17th century. Since this is a modest post, I certainly recognize the volumes that need to be written on these issues as well as the depth of the secondary literature among philosophers of science and historians of science. Theologians as well need to be involved in these conversations, and many are. That being said,forgive the general introduction.

Indeed it is difficult to analyze the period properly given the contemporary naturalistic and generally deterministic assumptions regarding efficient causality in the physical and moral realm. Thus, it is often the case that 17th c. Reformed theology is viewed, both by some of its contemporary proponents and critics, as contrary to true human freedom. Please understand that


A few toys for digital collaboration …

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009


If you work with documents from home, office, and on the go, this is a great tool for keeping some of your more frequent files synchronized. It also comes with 2 GB of free space expandable up to 5 GB for referrals, and 50GB with a subscription. This program works across platforms syncing files on Windows/Mac/Linux machines. It is also a great way to collaborate. I can’t say enough about its utility as I have played with it for the past couple of days. I have been able to photograph a rare work with a DSLR digital camera that names and saves the image into a dropbox folder which in turn is immediately available to all of the machines that are synced to that folder. On other computers, like the one with the largest storage drive, I set up either of these next two synchronization apps …

synctoy 2.0

This is a handy tool for Windows (sorry Mac & Linux!) available for free through Microsoft which allows you to sync files in a rather clean way. It was originally designed for photographers and image intensive work at Microsoft. Eventually it found its way to the web and the rest is history. I use this to “watch” a collaborative folder on a network or dropbox folder and update it on an automated schedule. I also customize it to only copy from the source file (the watched folder) and paste in the destination, and not to synchronize deletions from the source file. The result is that the shared folders become conduits of data rather than ponds that are frequently emptied in the name of saving space. 

syncback by 2brightsparks

This program’s user-interface is not as “pretty” as synctoy, but it is more advanced. If you are websavy it allows you to do the same thing as synctoy but with the added bonus of an FTP sync to your own web server.

WIth these tools if you have server space and FTP access, you can synchronize files quickly, easily, and automatically between multiple computers, multiple platforms, and a webserver. All this to say, with an entry level DSLR camera one can photograph a source while connected to the internet in some distant library, simultaneously share access to it between your computers, via synctoy running on the home computer, remotely copy it to a local drive at home, and via syncback upload it to a webserver instantaneously.

Does it get any easier? 

FYI: BE SURE TO READ SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS for compatibility with your computers!!! 

The JNUL Digitized Book Repository

Monday, May 11th, 2009

As you can probably tell from the various sites that I am visiting, today I have been working on footnotes for parts of the translation of Petrus van Mastricht Theoretico-Practica Theologia (for those of you interested I am about 90 pages into the piece). Mastricht has been interacting with Jesuits, Arminian/Remonstrants, English Puritans, Cameronians (think Amyraut et al), and more recently medieval and renaissance rabbis. I am happy to say that I have found almost all of the texts in some digital library or another. There are a few texts I might have to travel a little in order to check, but over all it was a good day.

One of several medieval rabbis that Mastricht cites favorably at points is Moses Maimonides (1138-1204), who was studied during the medieval period by Albertus Magnus, Aquinas, Meister Eckhart, and Andrew of St. Victor among others. In the renaissance and reformation period he was studied for his emphasis upon the literal sense of scripture and a philosophical defense of God and the authority of Scripture. His work was originally written in Arabic, translated into Hebrew, and then translated again into Latin. The edition that was popular among 17th c. philosophers, humanists, and exegetes was probably the rare and coveted 1629 Buxtorf edition that was translated from the Arabic directly into Latin. (If you find a pdf copy let me know!!)

So today, poking around a bit I was pleased to find a Latin 1520 edition of the Moreh Navukhim by R. Moses Maimonides for free based off of the Hebrew translation from the Arabic as well as several Hebrew editions. Granted it’s not the 1479 Hebrew translation from the Arabic that went for $44k on Christies’ auction block recently (183 pages at  roughly $240/pg!) , and it is not in my favorite pdf format (DJVU … ?), but there is a wonderful digital collection of early printed 15th c. to 19th c. editions of various famous works of Judaica at the Jewish National University and Library Book Repository which I highly recommend. The JNUL (which recently changed its name to the National Library of Israel) is located in Jerusalem and has roughly 5 million books. Their mission is to have copies of everything (regardless of language) which touches upon Judaism, Hebraica, or Israel. Needless to say, their digital library isn’t quite up to their holdings, but there are fine specimens of printed Hebrew and Latin translations from the early renaissance to the early 20th century. (I even found a Latin copy of Nicolas of Lyra …). You can also check out their other online resources here.

By the way, make sure you have the DjVU plugin installed for your web-browser and also for downloading the images (read the system specs carefully!) as well as any necessary Hebrew fonts, as the catalog does list the works in a Western or Hebrew alphabet depending on the titles and language of publication.