Automotive Deals Summer Reading Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it Songs of Summer Fire TV Stick Happy Belly Coffee Ruby jewelry Amazon Cash Back Offer TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection TarantinoCollection  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Water Sports

Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on September 8, 2004
John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion is a monumental work that stands among the greatest works of Christian theology and Western literature. It ranks with works such as St. Augustine's Confessions and City of God in value, insight and significance. The Institutes have molded the church's understanding of Christian doctrine for generations and has had untold influence in the development of Western thought in both the religious and civil arenas.

Calvin's Institutes represent his life work in teaching theology. They first appeared in 1536 and went through three significant revisions - each expanding and building upon the previous. This particular edition represents the final form and of which Calvin was very pleased.

Originally written to give basic understanding of Christian doctrine, they became one of the earliest systematic theologies of the Reformed tradition. Calvin's stated desire is to give the reader the necessary background to read and accurately handle the great doctrines and promises of the Bible.

Calvin sent a copy to the King Francis I to encourage him to stop persecuting the Christians who were embracing the gospel as taught by the Reformers. His basic argument was that if the king understood what these people believed he would stop killing them as heretics but rather see them as faithful adherents of historical Christianity. Calvin was no lover of novelty and throughout the Institutes copiously cites from the early church fathers and the long history of the Church's understanding of doctrine.

This two-volume work is broken down into four books that loosely follow the outline of the Apostle's Creed. Book 1 concerns knowledge of God. Book 2 is about Jesus Christ as redeemer. Book 3 is about the Holy Spirit's role in applying Christ's redeeming graces. Book 4 is about the church and practice.

This particular edition, translated by Battles and edited by McNeil is more expensive than the one produce by Beverage, but it is worth every extra dollar you spend. While the church is indebted to Beverage for his labor of love in getting many works by Calvin translated into English, his command of both French and Latin were not as strong as Battles. They were originally produced in both Latin and French and Battles' work demonstrates his competency in dealing with both languages. Also, Battles' mastery of Calvin's other writings is reflected in his voluminous footnotes, many of them very helpful to the reader for clarifying, further reading and cross-referencing. In addition, the indexes in the Battles edition are invaluable not only for searching the Institutes for topics but for gleaming Calvin's understanding of the church fathers.

Agree or disagree with Calvin, these are a necessary read for anyone who desires an understanding of the development of Western thought, literature and theology. They are not only great theology; they represent excellent writing and development of an argument. They are also highly pastoral and devotional. They are not like reading a modern systematic theology. Calvin understood doctrine to be more than theory, but something to mold our understanding of God, ourselves and the world in which we live. Carefully working through the Institutes is a journey worth taking!

Soli Deo Gloria!
33 comments| 162 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 13, 2008
John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion is a classic. And the two most frequently suggested English translations seem to be the older Henry Beveridge translation and the newer John McNeill and Ford Lewis Battles translation. But it's hard for a layperson like me to know which English translation is "best." So for what it's worth, if anything, I thought the following quotations from Christian scholars might be helpful to some people:

1. Here's what Reformed Christian scholar and theological philosopher Paul Helm (who himself has studied and contributed several works on John Calvin) says:

"Incidentally, if you have the need of a translation of the Institutes, then the reissue of the Beveridge translation (newly published by Hendrickson) may be just the thing. It has new indexes, and has been 'gently edited', which means, I hope, only the removal of typos and other detritus. (I have not yet had the chance to check). Beveridge is superior to Battles in sticking closer to the original Latin, and having less intrusive editorial paraphernalia."

2. Here's another Calvin scholar, Richard A. Muller, on the two translations (from the preface of The Unaccommodated Calvin):

"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 translation 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 McNeill-Battles translation suffers from the mentality of the text-critic who hides the original ambience of the text even as he attempts to reveal all its secrets to the modern reader."

3. The following is from J.I. Packer in the foreword to A Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes:

"No English translation fully matches Calvin's Latin; that of the Elizabethan, Thomas Norton, perhaps gets closest; Beveridge gives us Calvin's feistiness but not always his precision; Battles gives us the precision but not always the punchiness, and fleetness of foot; Allen is smooth and clear, but low-key."

4. Finally, the following is from David Calhoun:

"Let me just say a few words about English translations. The first was Thomas Norton back in the sixteenth century. Calvin was very fortunate with his first English translator. Norton did an exceptionally good job. Very soon after the completion of the Institutes in 1559, which was written in Latin, it was translated by Calvin into French and then quite soon into English. John Allen was the second translator. John Allen and Henry Beveridge were both nineteenth-century translators. The Beveridge translation is still in print. It was until fairly recently anyway. Those are not bad but not very good either. Ford Lewis Battles' 1960 translation is the one that we are using. Even though it has been criticized some, it is by far the most superior translation that we have at present."

Once again, I hope this might be helpful to some people.
66 comments| 168 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 3, 2002
Why you should read this book:
1. It's not to heavy (thought it does make you think a lot). I have read a couple of puritan book of the 17th century and they are filled with great stuff but because you read them in the original English it's hard going, but this book translated from the Latin is much more readable. Although the book is v. long it is not as hard as you think it is - trust me.
2. It is nice to read a good theologian not setting out purely with the aim of defending the doctrines his own denomination has been teaching for centuries. Although is influenced by tradition he is not as obsessed by it as some Protestants today. He does suffer slightly sometimes, i.e. has some wrong ideas about minor points (e.g. the ancient church on confirmation), because he is not just re-plowing a furrow that has be furrowed a thousand times, but these slips are usually picked up in the notes. It's so refreshing.
3. He really, really cares about the truth. Yes he does sometimes call his opponents "dogs" and "swine" which is less acceptable now than it once was, but he calls them that because he is angry because he sees heretics catching Christians in their nets, are you not upset when you see that?
Earlier reviewers have called him a tyrant because he used his limited power (he wasn't even a citizen of Geneva) to try to stop people sinning as much. Sometimes he went a bit overboard but at least he cared.
4. He uses the church fathers a lot more than anyone else I've ever read. He had read so much compared to now. I have heard that he worked very hard, 4hrs sleep, into an early grave etc, and it's not hard to see what he did. He was a full time pastor and yet had read all these books. Scripture is infinitely better than the fathers, but Calvin was concerned about the Catholics and he uses Augustine etc to show the Catholics of then and now that their beloved fathers would have hated the RC church post-500ish. You won't get that much elsewhere.
5. His chapters on providence and man's sinfulness. People think this book is all about predestination to salvation, but it doesn't really have a central theme like that. But essential to your understanding of election is God's providence and our depravity and Calvin gives these the right weight and makes so much so clear. However overriding all his writing on election and everything else is that we should try to understand as much as the bible tells us but go no further. He was, it seems to me (<I can't see his heart like God can), really humble before God and his word.
The fact that this review is so badly written should prove to you that I am not an eminent scholar, just a lowly maths student, and so this book is easy enough for most to read. Don't bother with an abridged version spend the rather large amount of money and get this book - it is worth it. If you want a big book mainly for reference get Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof which though not perfect (no book by man ever will be) has more scripture references and less human writing.
However, if there was one book other than the Bible with me on a desert island it would be this one. No other human author has ever been as edifying for me. He helped me realize for the first time since I had started calling myself a Christian a few months earlier that I was saved totally by grace and am myself the most vile creature on earth when you realize God's holiness (read Hopeful's story in Pilgrim's Progress that's me). This book (would you believe it a 16th century work) truly drove me to my knees. Buy it! Sorry for rambling.
22 comments| 100 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 17, 2005
Unfortunately this translation of Calvin's 'Institutes' is often overlooked due to the more popular translation from Battles. However, this is an excellent translation of Calvin's most famous work and given its age (first published in 1845), it is surprisingly modern - due in part to this very edition which has been 'tweaked' into a more modern verbiage.

This 'tweaking' in no way has diminished, however, the wonderful job Beverage did in translating this work. From what I have been told by several Latin scholars and theologians, and having studied Latin myself, Calvin's Latin is not a walk in the park. That being the case, once you read this translation, you can see why Beverage did such a great job.

The one feature I like best about this translation is the fact that it is well footnoted for the researcher and reader. Therefore, this translation is well documented for further research into Calvin's thought. This also helps to clear up difficulties of translation (remember Calvin's Latin is very tough). At certain points in Calvin's work, his thought via a solid translation gets confusing for scholars, this edition has footnotes detailing these difficulties, and that makes for a better read.

Now, about Calvin's 'Institutes' This work is Calvin's Opus and gives the reader the best information regarding Calvin's thoughts on the Church and Church Government, Calvin's hermeneutic, Calvin's theology of God, Calvin's epistemology, Calvin's Soteriology, the benefits of the grace of Christ, his views on the Papacy (of his day), the Roman Catholic Church, the current state of Christendom, and much more. The interesting thing about this work (the Institutes), it is not Calvin's definitive work on the theology of predestination. Calvin actually wrote several other works which deal only with that subject and present a far better assessment of his theology behind predestination (see Calvin's treatise titled "Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God," and Calvin's response to Pighius titled "The Bondage and Liberation of the Will.")

But, for the best overview of Calvin's thought on the Church and theology, the Institutes is the work to read. Beverage's translation is a great work. It is introduced by the reformed theologian John Murray, it has a general index in the back of the work, and reads very much in modern verbiage. I highly recommend this edition.
0Comment| 75 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 8, 2004
John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion is a monumental work that stands among the greatest works of Christian theology and Western literature. It ranks with works such as St. Augustine's Confessions and City of God in value, insight and significance. The Institutes have molded the church's understanding of Christian doctrine for generations and has had untold influence in the development of Western thought in both the religious and civil arenas.

Calvin's Institutes represent his life work in teaching theology. They first appeared in 1536 and went through three significant revisions - each expanding and building upon the previous. This particular edition represents the final form and of which Calvin was very pleased.

Originally written to give basic understanding of Christian doctrine, they became one of the earliest systematic theologies of the Reformed tradition. Calvin's stated desire is to give the reader the necessary background to read and accurately handle the great doctrines and promises of the Bible.

Calvin sent a copy to the King Francis I to encourage him to stop persecuting the Christians who were embracing the gospel as taught by the Reformers. His basic argument was that if the king understood what these people believed he would stop killing them as heretics but rather see them as faithful adherents of historical Christianity. Calvin was no lover of novelty and throughout the Institutes copiously sights from the early church fathers and the long history of the Church's understanding of doctrine.

This one-volume work is broken down into four books that loosely follow the outline of the Apostle's Creed. Book 1 concerns knowledge of God. Book 2 is about Jesus Christ as redeemer. Book 3 is about the Holy Spirit's role in applying Christ's redeeming graces. Book 4 is about the church and practice.

This particular edition, translated by Beverage is not as good as the one by Battles and edited by McNeil. While the church is indebted to Beverage for his labor of love in getting many works by Calvin translated into English, his command of both French and Latin were not as strong as Battles. They were originally produced in both Latin and French and Battles' work demonstrates his competency in dealing with both languages. Also, Battles' mastery of Calvin's other writings is reflected in his voluminous footnotes, many of them very helpful to the reader for clarifying, further reading and cross-referencing. In addition, the indexes in the Battles' edition are invaluable not only for searching the Institutes for topics but for gleaming Calvin's understanding of the church fathers. If the cost of the Battles translation is prohibative, then you won't go wrong with this Beverage edition. But for difference between the two editions, the Battles work with worth every extra dollar you pay.

Agree or disagree with Calvin, these are a necessary read for anyone who desires an understanding of the development of Western thought, literature and theology. They are not only great theology; they represent excellent writing and development of an argument. They are also highly pastoral and devotional. They are not like reading a modern systematic theology. Calvin understood doctrine to be more than theory, but something to mold our understanding of God, ourselves and the world in which we live. Carefully working through the Institutes is a journey worth taking!

Soli Deo Gloria!
0Comment| 53 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 19, 1999
There's so much here, it's difficult to write a review of it.
Perhaps my main recommendation of this book is that it presents such a clear, organized outline of the "basics" of the Christian faith. Regardless of one's position on the man or his theology, one cannot escape the fact that this man's faith was obviously vital to him, and he passionately describes his beliefs in these volumes.
Reading Calvin's Institutes was, for me, quite valuable in finally being able to separate John Calvin and his theology from later "Calvinism" that followed, including some of its excesses. I found John Calvin's Institutes to be a balanced, easily understood outline of biblical Christianity.
My final commendation would address the organization of the work. The fact that Calvin has provided the reader with a clear outline and direction in his writing, and addressed each point of his outline in concise, manageable units makes the reading of this immense work much more approachable; the brief readings on each topic, with the saturation of biblical references throughout, makes the reading of the Institutes almost a devotional experience.
0Comment| 46 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 18, 2003
This is simply the finest translation of Calvin's Insitutes. What makes this translation so good is the indexes of names, topics, and biblical verses....Mcneil's edition is tried and tested in this two volume set. It is a must have for anyone wanting to read Calvin in a durable hardcover edition. The indexes are invaluable in finding subjects that Calvin addresses. This is the one--i think. While the isbn matches, the price does not. You might want to contact amazon and make sure you are getting the hardback two volume set. The isbn is 0664220207 for the first book and 0664220215 for the second. The price should be around 60 dollars or so.
0Comment| 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 21, 2009
The recent reissue of Beveridge's 19th century translation of Calvin's Institutes is a very nice complement to the more comprehensive scholarly edition by McNeil (translated by Battles). If you are trying to decide between the Battles and the Beveridge translation here are a few things to consider.

1. The Battles has extensive editing, which includes a thorough cross-referencing of the pertinent quotations that Calvin refers to, as well as the pertinent Biblical texts and intertextual references. McNeil is a quality editor, but as with any editing, the view of the editor is never without a measure of bias. If you are looking to get a fresh interpretation of Calvin, you try reading the Beveridge first, or skip over the footnotes in the Battles.

2. The Beveridge provides alternative readings based upon the French edition of the Institutes. I've found this aspect to be quite interesting. Calvin's style in French tends to be a bit more expansive and colorful than his Latin.

3. The Beveridge has the benefit of being a one-volume hardback, as opposed to the two-volume hardback of the Battles. The one-volume has a bit more heft to carry around, but you always have the complete work with you if you are out and about.

4. The subject headings are different in the two editions. The Beveridge provides a full sentence overview outline at the beginning of each chapter division, whereas the Battles provides subheadings for each minor section. There are pros and cons to each approach, of course.

Whatever edition you decide to get, you will not be disappointed. Calvin's Institutes is a masterpiece of Western literature, and one of the most important works of the Christian Church of all time.
11 comment| 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 16, 2001
No doubt this book was the most influential source of theological influence in the protestant movement, and needless to say essential for any student of religion to read and own a copy of. I take issue with anyone that rates this book down due to dislike for the doctrine of predestination, despite Calvin's perspective still being the most coherent and comprehensive theological analysis ever written (compare it in length to Aquinas' Summa and you'll see what I mean).
The price is incredibly convenient although it probably will not last twenty years as binded. Especially good for students.
0Comment| 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 18, 2000
This concise one-volume version of Calvin's "Institutes" is an indispensible reference that should be on the shelves of every student of theology or recent history. The translation is superlative and is as unambiguous in its gramatical choice as possible. This particular volume is excellent because it brings the "Institutes" into one compact volume.
I see only two problems with this version: a 2,000 page paperback book is going to have its binding creased eventually. It would have been nice to see a hardcover version of this. Secondly, this volume lacks a concise index and concordance. If you purchase this volume, I would recommend also purchasing a concordance to the "Institutes."
Overall an excellent version of a wonderful theological document.
0Comment| 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse