The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Review: “The Major Works of Herman Witsius”

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The Major Works of Herman Witsius (3 sets in 5 volumes)

Herman Witsius

Reformation Heritage Books, 2010, 2392pp., cloth, $70

ISBN 978-1-60178-095-9 / 978-1-60178-096-6 / 978-1-60178-097-3

Of necessity, this is more a book notice than a review. Herman Witsius (1636-1708) is one of the Dutch Reformed scholars who too easily falls without trace into the gaps in popular knowledge of post-Reformation theologians. Reformation Heritage Books provides high-quality facsimiles of 19th century editions of his The Economy of the Covenants (2 vols), Sacred Dissertations on the Apostles’ Creed (2 vols) and Sacred Dissertations on the Lord’s Prayer (1 vol). The English translations are generally clear and forceful, if sometimes dense. The first two volumes are a ‘body of divinity’, or systematic theology, worked out in terms of God’s covenants with man: one must sometimes read between the lines of the controversy Witsius is addressing to get at the profitable meat of his manifestly Biblical treatment (in the sense that he is clearly wrestling with Scripture). The Apostles’ Creed takes a different approach, providing a similar theological overview grounded in the language of the Apostles’ Creed. The Lord’s Prayer provides not only an exposition of that passage, but also a broader treatment of the whole topic of prayer, covering a variety of fascinating questions and concerns. For all its erudition, there is no absence of warm and pointed application throughout this collection, for Witsius allows no separation of heart and mind. His work will reward the meditative devotee better than the occasional dipper, and that reward will be well worth the effort.

(Note that the three sets which comprise the larger set are available separately.)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 10 March 2011 at 08:20

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