Institutes of the Christian Religion: The First English Version of the 1541 French Edition

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Overview

The first English translation of a classic text of pastoral theology. / John Calvin (1509—1564) originally wrote his famous Institutes of the Christian Religion in Latin. Beginning with the second edition of his work published in 1541, Calvin translated each new version into French, simultaneously adapting the text to suit lay audiences, shaping it subtly but clearly to teach, exhort, and encourage them. Besides reflecting a more pastoral bent on Calvin's part, this 1541 Institutes is also notable as one of the founding documents of the modern French language. / Elsie Anne McKee's masterful translation of the 1541 French Edition — the first-ever English version — offers full access to the brilliant mind of John Calvin as he considered what common Christian people should all know and practice. / “This sparkling translation of John Calvin's 1541 French Institutes offers modern-day readers in the English-speaking world the opportunity to read Calvin's first version of his masterwork intended for a general audience. Elsie McKee is to be commended for her faithful yet accessible translation of this key text.”— Karin Maag / Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies, Calvin College and Seminary / “major event for Calvin students! English-language readers can, at last, access and use the 1541 version of the Institutes. Scholars of repute consider this version the most admirable of all: it combines freshness and maturity, it is not overloaded with polemical developments, and, as the first theological work in the vernacular, it made a decisive contribution toward shaping modern French. It is a landmark in Calvin's corpus. Elsie McKee's translation, checked against the original French, remains scrupulously accurate, while it reads with ease and harmonious fluidity.”— Henri Blocher / Faculté Libre de Théologie Évangélique / Wheaton College Graduate School / “I am impressed with what Elsie McKee has accomplished. It is amazing how she has managed to translate Calvin's smooth French into an English that is a pleasure to read. Even more important, however, is that she has made this important work of Calvin accessible for a wide audience, so all can experience the stimulus that reading Calvin can give to the church and theology today.”— Herman J. Selderhuis / Theologische Universiteit Appeldoorn / “The 1541 edition of the Institutes has long been considered a gem among the various editions of Calvin's classic. Its special virtues are that it is more concise than the final 1559 edition and also more pastoral and practical, reflecting Calvin's years in the ministry. Finally we have a superb English translation of this edition by a premier Calvin scholar. Elsie McKee knows Calvin and knows French. The result is a wonderful contribution to Calvin studies in the English-speaking world. Readers of this version will gain fresh perspectives and new insights into the Reformer's theology.”— I. John Hesselink / Western Theological Seminary

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802807748
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/6/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 755
  • Sales rank: 867,421
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

(1509-1564) One of the most influential reformers, his work was of significance throughout Europe and beyond. / John Calvin was born in Noyon, France on July 10, 1509. His father was the secretary and attorney for the bishopric of Noyon. Calvin was a brilliant scholar and studied law in Paris, Orleans and Bourges. / After what he called a "sudden conversion" at the age of 23, Calvin became a fervent Christian and scholar of the Scripture. Calvin did not immediately break with the Roman Catholic Church, but rather worked toward its reform. His pleas for reform soon brought upon him the hatred of the Catholic Church, and in time he was banished from Paris. / Calvin fled to Switzerland, broke with the Catholic Church, and joined with the reformers. In 1536 he published his famous Institutes of the Christian Religion, which was a systematic presentation of the Protestant position. / In 1559 he founded what later became the University of Geneva. Here he taught his beliefs to thousands of students who in turn carried "Calvinism" back to their homelands throughout Europe. / John Calvin died in Geneva, Switzerland on May 27, 1564.

Elsie Anne McKee is Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship at Princeton Theological Seminary.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 87 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 87 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    One of the most significant Christian works in the best possible presentation.

    I was completely blown away with the way this book is done! I have tried to read the Institutes in the paper form but the volume of the work presents a serious challenge. So when I got my Nook, the Institutes was one of the first books I downloaded in hopes to finally conquer it. Too bad I got it from a different publisher - the digital version I had bought seemed even more confusing. One of my friends, a Reformed pastor, suggested I tried this version. I still cannot believe how well done this one is. The clear structure of the book, the hyperlinks, the active table of content, the ease of navigation is above any expectations! It includes all the text from the original work, all Calvin's notes on the Bible verses (you can basically open a list of Bible verses he commented on and "jump" directly to his notes on a particular verse, and then back), and yet you can easily navigate between all books, chapters and sections. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in serious approach to studying the Bible or Christian religion all together. And if you are bound to read Calvin's Institutes, do yourself a favor and get this one - you will be impressed!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Still perfectly relevant today - 500 years later!

    Henry Beveridge's translation of John Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion" is wonderful. Usually you find Calvin's Institutes in a two-volume set, but it is nicely packaged here in one compete volume. John Calvin was of the mentality that whether in teaching or writing, lucid brevity should always be kept in mind - and he held to his advice. This volume is succint, clear, and very readable. Many people are intimidated by its size, but because it is so well-written, you find yourself almost reading it like a novel instead of as a reference. Also, because it was Calvin's 500th birthday this last summer (2009), this version of his Institutes was tacked onto the 500th Anniversary Edition of Calvin's Commentaries as a bonus. For anyone who is interested in this book as an introduction to Calvinism/Presyterianism/Reformed Theology, I highly recommend it.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2010

    Christianity as it should be understood

    This is the most readable translation of Calvin's magnum opus. Not to dismiss the Battles translation out-of-hand, but Beveridge's care and vocabulary raise these volumes to a separate level of scholarship.
    The 'Institutes,' like any great book, deserves 3 full readings to be properly grasped.
    Calvin does not approach his subjects in the way we normally understand 'systematic theology,' but as an erudite pastor taking his charges by the hand through the maze of many seemingly contradictory slices of Scripture.
    Approach this book with an open heart and mind and enjoy the rich harvest of a French genius.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2009

    A Must Read For Anyone Interested In Reform Theology

    John Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion" has to rank as one of the great theological tomes of the Christian Religion. Calvin's theology, as set forth in this volume, have been a major influence not only in religion but in government, economics, and education for 500 years and counting. It is not an easy read. The concepts are dense, the argumentation and logic unassailable and every concept and every page builds on all that has gone before. To attempt to dip in and extract Calvin's thoughts will inevitably result in gross misinterpretation. To skip even a single paragraph risks losing a key concept. This is not a book for the casual reader, rather for the serious students of Reform Theology, history, government, economics, and modern western society. For a first introduction to Calvin's thought try his "Instructions in Faith" written for his parishioners in Geneva.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2011

    A must-have for every serious student of the Bible

    John Calvin was one of the greatest Christian minds and an influential theologian of the 16th century. Institutes of the Christian Religion is his most prominent work. It is not an easy read by all means, consisting of 4 books, each of them containing numerous chapters, divided into subsections. The divisions are very logical, each addressing a separate issue. This particular publication offers an easy and convenient way to navigate through the parts of the books, effortlessly finding what the reader is looking for. I highly recommend this version to anyone who considers buying this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2012

    Remarkably readable

    Calvin was a very orderly thinker. He would choose a topic and examine it carefully before passing on to the next. The topics are broken up into chapters brief enough to be readable in one sitting. He tried to be as lucid and brief as possible in his prose style, and for the most part succeeded. If you want to understand the Calvinist/Reformed branch of 16th century Protestantism, this is an excellent resource. There is no hypertext linking to chapters, but if you intend to read this volume straight through, that isn't a problem. Had there been decent internal links, I would have rated this at five stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    complete

    not a bad buy.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    A must for reformed christians

    The ULTIMATE systematic theology is great on the nook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2011

    Calvin is Better than His next Followers

    9/9/2011. Great way to research one of the top leaders of the Reformation in 1500's Europe. So easy to use and search.

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