Institutes-Battles We are pleased to announce the release of the Accordance edition of Ford Lewis Battles’ definitive English translation of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Originally published in Latin in 1536, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion quickly came to be recognized as a comprehensive and thouroughly coherent explication of continental Protestant theology. In much the same way as St. Paul’s letters to Christian churches were theological tretises born out of and for Christian discipleship, the Institutes were, ostensibly, originally written as an apology for the Protestant faith to the Catholic King Francis I of France; a man who, while wanting to maintain good relations with his Protestant German counterparts, was suppressing the French Protestant movement.

Over the span of twenty-five years Calvin himself wrote five Latin editions. What was once a lithe and lean apology grew to nearly five times it original length by the final Latin edition. Calvin also personally translated the first French edition and supervised three further French translations. The first English translation, done by Thomas Norton, the son-in-law of Thomas Cranmer, was published in 1561. Nearly 300 years later Henry Beveridge published his translation, based on the 1560 French edition. It is this Beveridge edition of the Institutes which Accordance has had available for a number of years.

Calvin's Institutes Beveridge vs. Battles

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Beveridge’s translation (left) to Battles’ (right) of Calvin’s Institutes.

The current work, rather than being simply a translation of one printed edition, is an eclectic text edited by John T. McNeil and translated by Ford Lewis Battles. From the Translator’s Note:

The translation of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion here offered has been newly made from the 1559 Latin Text [VL] as edited by Barth and Niesel, collated, however, with the earlier editions of that text and also with the 1536, 1539, 1543, 1545, 1550, 1553, and 1554 versions. The French versions [VG] of 1560 (CR and Benoit) and of 1541 (Pannier) have been consulted: where a rendering has been adopted from the French, the fact is duly noted. Occasional recourse has been had to the Dutch of A. Sizoo and the German of O. Weber.

Simply put, there are few other books, apart from the Holy Scriptures, which have had such a long-lasting and expansive effect on Christian faith and life. Whether or not, in the end, one agrees with any or all of Calvin’s thoughts, working through this treatise will drive one deeper into one’s own understanding of God’s Word.

John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (Battles Translation)

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