n Koers : Bulletin for Christian Scholarship = Koers : Bulletin vir Christelike Wetenskap - The first outline of Calvin's theology - the preface to the New Testament in the Olivétan Bible of 1535 : research article

Volume 66, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 0023-270X
  • E-ISSN: 2304-8557



The first outline of Calvin's theology - the preface to the New Testament in the Olivétan Bible of 1535

The prefaces which Calvin wrote for the Bible translation of Olivétan (1535) conform to the general custom during the Reformation to translate the Bible into the vernacular and to publish these translations simultaneously with interpretation aids. In the preface published in the Olivétan Bible and preceding the New Testament translation, Calvin wants to indicate to the reader (in this case the heathen) the correct way to approach the Bible.
Although no captions or headings are included, the preface is structured very precisely, thus also presenting Calvin's systematic kind of exposition.
In order to show the heathen the way to salvation, Calvin indicates a way via prehistory (Gen. 1-11; Rom. 1-2; Acts 14 and 17), the Ten Commandments (Decalogue) to the New Testament witness about Christ. The focus and goal of this path are the fulfilment of the law. Clearly the most noticeable result of the analysis of this preface is the "system of corresponding doctrines" found between creation and salvation. This specific approach of Calvin is a key to understanding his later theology.
In the second part of the preface Calvin explains the main Biblical concepts of "Testament", "Evangelium" and "Messiah". Regarding this his view corresponds to Luther's writing, "De captivitate Babylonica ..." (1520), and is perhaps dependent on it.
The third part of the preface contains admonitions to Christians who are persecuted to assure them of their salvation. Admonitions to kings, princes, rulers, bishops and pastors are also included.

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