Synopsis of A Purer Theology
Edited by William Den Boer & Riemer A. Faber, Translated by Riemer A. Faber
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Hardback Publication Date: June 12, 2023
Paperback Publication: October 10, 2023
About this book
Finally, a classic of Reformed Orthodoxy that won’t break the bank.
Over the past decade, the project of Protestant resourcement has exploded, giving pastors, scholars, and lay-people access to the great thinkers who shaped their tradition. Despite this great progress, many treasures of Reformed theology remain obscured from the lay-person, confined to academics with a working knowledge of Latin and Biblical languages–or, if translated, affordable only by libraries with large budgets.
Synopsis of a Purer Theology, otherwise known as “the Leiden Synopsis,” is one such work. Collecting theological disputations delivered at the University of Leiden in the early 1600s, it is one of the most historically important and theologically comprehensive handbooks of Reformed theology, being a key influence for many Reformed theologians including Herman Bavinck, Abraham Kuyper, Karl Barth, Louis Berkhof, and Richard Muller. And yet, it has remained largely forgotten and left to a handful of Latin-reading scholars.
Now for the first time, the Davenant Press has published this significant work in a full English-only translation, in an affordable and concise two-volume set that includes introductory material to orient the reader to the text.
The Synopsis offers both a snapshot of the state of confessional theology in the 17th-century Dutch Reformed tradition, and also an enduring example of how the project of systematizing doctrine can serve the church. The Leiden professors modeled thoroughness and clarity of thought in the face of confusion, and a vision of irenic Christian unity over brittle doctrinal uniformity.
As Protestants endeavor both to recover their forgotten heritage and to pass it down to the next generation, we need examples of how this has been done before us. The Synopsis of a Purer Theology will serve to bring such illumination and perspective to a generation desperately in need of its boldness, clarity, and wisdom.
Hardback | 2 Volumes – xxi + 408 + 448 pp. | 6×9 | ISBN 1-949716-15-5 | PubliSHed June 10, 2023
PAPERBACK | 2 Volumes – xxi + 408 + 448 pp. | 6×9 | ISBN 1-949716-22-8 + 1-949716-23-6 | PubliSHed OCTOBER 10, 2023
If you are interested in a bulk order please contact [email protected].
From the Book
“30. For we admit freely that it is the Church’s duty to guard Holy Scripture, to preserve its integrity with all reverence and care, to vindicate it from people’s corrupting influence, to exhibit and prove its divine quality to others, whence it is called, “the pillar and bulwark of the truth,” by Paul in 1 Tim 3:15. Be that as it may, from this no authority over Scripture should be drawn for the Church, but only service and proclamation, just as the edicts of leading civic officials do not get their authority from the heralds and servants, even though by these men they are made known and published.
“31. It is made clear to us that the authority of Holy Scripture is much greater than that of the Church by the fact that the Church is capable of erring while Scripture cannot. Moreover, it is clear that the authority of the Church (whatsoever that may be) is derived from Scripture, just as the papal teachers themselves recognize, since they try to prove their own authority from Scripture. And finally, because the testimony of the Holy Spirit, shared by all of Christ’s true sheep (John 10), as well as those divine marks that present themselves in Holy Scripture, is of much greater authority and weight—even as far as we are concerned—than the mere testimony of the Church, since this testimony of the Church is nothing but human persuasion. But the Holy Spirit, by means of those divine marks in Scripture instills into our souls the divine faith that brings salvation.”
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
William den Boer & Riemer A. Faber
Synopsis of a Purer Theology 1625
- Concerning the Most Sacred Theology
- On the Necessity and Authority of Scripture
- Concerning the Canonical and Apocryphal Books
- On the Perfection of Scripture, and the Futility of Adding
- About the Perspicuity and the Interpretation of Holy Scripture
- About the Nature of God and his Divine Attributes
- On the Holy Trinity
- Concerning the Person of the Father and of the Son
- On the Person of the Holy Spirit
- Concerning the Creation of the World
- On the Providence of God
- Concerning the Good and Bad Angels
- About Man Created in the Image of God
- On the Fall of Adam
- On Original Sin
- On Actual Sin
- On Free Choice
- Concerning the Law of God
- On Idolatry
- Concerning the Oath
- On the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day
- On the Gospel
- On the Old and the New Testament
- On Divine Predestination
- On the Incarnation of the Son of God and the Personal Union of the Two Natures in Christ
- On the Office of Christ
- On Christ in his State of Humiliation
- On Jesus Christ in his State of Exaltation
- On the Satisfaction by Jesus Christ
- On the Calling of People to Salvation
- On Faith and the Perseverance of the Saints
- On Repentance
- On the Justification of Man in the Sight of God
- On Good Works
- On Christian Freedom
- On the Religious Practice of Invocation
- On Almsgiving and Fasting
- On Vows
- On Purgatory and Indulgences
- On the Church
- On Christ as Head of the Church, and on the Antichrist
- On the Calling of Those Who Minister to the Church,
- On the Sacraments in General
- On the Sacrament of Baptism
- On the Lord’s Supper
- On the Sacrifice of the Mass and Its Abuses
- On the Five False Sacraments of the Papists
- On Church Discipline
- On Ecclesiastical Councils or Meetings
- On the Civil Magistrate
- On the Resurrection of the Body and the Last Judgment
- On Life and Death Everlasting and on the End of the World
About the Editor
William den Boer, PhD (2008) Theological University Apeldoorn, is postdoctoral researcher at the Theological University Kampen / Utrecht. He is author of God’s Twofold Love: The Theology of Jacob Arminius (1559–1609) (2010), general editor of Synopsis Purioris Theologiae / Synopsis of a Purer Theology: Latin Text and English Translation (2014–2020), and author or editor of several books and articles on church history and (historical) theology. Dr. den Boer is chairman of the Dutch branch of The Gospel Coalition and pastors a church in the city of Almere.
About the Translator
Riemer A. Faber, PhD (1992) University of Toronto, is Professor of Classics at the University of Waterloo. His research interests range from the reception of Greek poetry in Augustan Rome to neo-Latin literature. Recent projects include an English edition of Erasmi Annotationes ad Galatas, ad Ephesios (2017), an edited volume of essays, Celebrity, Fame and Infamy in the Hellenistic World (2020), and a forthcoming co-edited volume, Comparing Roman Hellenisms in Italy. He is general editor and translator of Synopsis Purioris Theologiae / Synopsis of a Purer Theology (2014–2020). Dr. Faber serves as chair of the editorial board of the Collected Works of Erasmus.
Praise for this work
“In the Christian faith, we cannot do without each other, but we need the insights of each. In The Leiden Synopsis, Reformed theology from the best theologians of the time comes together, resulting in a finely crafted rendition of the Christian faith. For the study of Christian faith and Reformed theology, this handbook is indispensable today.”
– Professor Dr. Willem van Vlastuin
Professor of the Theology and the Spirituality of Reformed Protestantism, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Dean of the Hersteld Hervormd Seminary, and Director of the Jonathan Edwards Centre Benelux
“Through the publication of the Synopsis in English, the essence of Reformed theology is no longer exclusively available to traditional, Western historiography and church history. Its original Latin format limited its impact to professional theologians and specialised philologists focusing on theology, while its religious core remained inaccessible not only to the general public but also to geographical venues beyond the West. Now, however, this treasure of theological insights is no longer the appanage of expert scholars; from lay people to academics with vested interests in religion, the Synopsis will become accessible to every person who wishes to know more about Reformed theology regardless of whether one lives in the West, the East or the Global South. This is an achievement with unprecedented possibilities for Reformed theology and its rich ecclesiastical tradition.”
– Professor Corneliu C. Simuț
Aurel Vlaicu University (Romania)
“The Leiden theology faculty was the ‘Sorbonne’ of Reformed orthodoxy. And the Leiden Synopsis represented the consensus after the Synod of Dort. Weaving into its exegetical arguments support from patristic and medieval sources, the authors display the catholic and evangelical spirit of Reformed theology. Avoiding internecine disputes, the Synopsis focuses on the doctrines that all Reformed Christians confess. Given its spirit, scope and learned arguments, it deserves to inform the tradition today as it did so persuasively in the past.”
– Michael Horton
J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“The Leiden Synopsis is a codification of Reformed orthodoxy, concise and precise in its presentation of early modern Reformed theology. The translators, editors, and publisher are commended for making this monumental work available in English. Indispensable for any serious scholar and student in Post-reformation Reformed theology.”
– Adriaan C. Neele
Vice President, Professor of Historical Theology and Homiletics, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
“Doctrinal controversy brings strife but it also brings clarity and precision to doctrinal formulation, which is a blessing. This benefit of debate is no less true of the Leiden Synopsis, written in the wake of the Arminian controversy. This collection of theological disputations is grounded in Scripture, razor sharp in its distinctions, and conversant with the history of doctrine. No serious student of theology can afford to ignore this theological work.”
– J. V. Fesko
Harriet Barbour Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
“Having taught theology at Leiden University myself for several years, I can only rejoice over this republication and translation of one its most outstanding and influential theological products ever: the so-called Leiden Synopsis. It is a great benefit to so many pastors, scholars and interested lay people alike that this complete survey of solid Reformed-scholastic theology is now becoming widely available and accessible. We definitely owe the debt of gratitude to the editors, translator and all those who provided so many illuminating comments that really help readers to grasp and contextualize the text.”
– Gijsbert van den Brink
Professor of Theology and Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
“The Leiden Synopsis is one of the most significant translation projects in recent memory. This set of disputations is already considered essential for work in Reformed theology, and so I am delighted that Davenant is making it available for a wider audience. For Reformed pastors and theologians, the Leiden Synopsis proves to be a profoundly useful companion, and I have no doubt that it will be a significant aid in the work to retrieve Reformed Scholastic theology.”
– Kyle Strobel
Associate Professor of Classical Theology, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.
“Davenant does theology and church a great service with offering this selection of the Leiden Synopsis. That deep and highly relevant source of reformation theology becomes now available to even a much wider community, what the Synopsis deserves and the community needs. I’m also very happy that the great efforts of Riemer A. Faber and William den Boer can be made fruitful for all interested in clear, biblical theology. There is no doubt that this publication will find many readers.”
– Herman Selderhuis
Theological University Apeldoorn / REFORC
“Set forth in the wake of Dort, the Leiden Synopsis has enjoyed critical influence on Reformed thought since the early seventeenth century. This accessible, single-volume edition of Riemer Faber’s hailed English translation—with fresh editorial guidance by William den Boer and Faber—is a ready resource for learning today from the Leiden faculty’s attempt to read scripture in conversation with those who came before.”
– Christina Larsen
Associate Professor of Theology, Grand Canyon Theological Seminary & College of Theology
“The Leiden Synopsis is one of the crown jewels of Reformed theology. Profoundly collegial in its origins, it presents a compact yet compelling account of post-Reformation dogmatics that is deeply rooted in Scripture yet acutely aware of tradition. It serves not only as a historical landmark in the development of the Reformed tradition, but also as a contemporary provocation to engage deeply with the wisdom and insight it offers. This elegant translation of the Synopsis will thus reward careful reading and re-reading, and comes warmly recommended.”
– Professor Paul T. Nimmo
King’s Chair of Systematic Theology, University of Aberdeen
“Can the past inform the present? Absolutely! Here the seventeenth century theology, piety, and practice of the Leiden Synopsis informs the Reformed church in the twenty-first century. The Davenant Institute is to be commended for publishing this time-honored resource. Scholars, professors, ministers, and even laypersons of Reformed theology will benefit from this excellent volume.”
– Tyler Taber
(PhD, Free University of Amsterdam), Minister of Word and Sacrament, Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Amarillo, Texas)
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