Matching Funds for Digitization Project

A generous benefactor has put up $1,000 of matching funds for donations raised through the end of this calendar year. Please help us to maximize our ability to digitize early modern texts in theology by contributing to our fundraising campaign. The opportunity to double your donation ends on December 31, so please don’t delay!

For more about our digitization efforts, check out the video below:

And peruse some of the first fruits here.

Free the Rare Books!

If PRDL had a rallying cry it would be “Free Rare Books!” Now with our fundraising campaign for the Junius Institute integrated into PRDL and the crowd-funding site Razoo, we have a mechanism to “Free the Rare Books!” This 4 minute video clip summarizes where PRDL has been and where we would like to go.

Please consider passing this information on to a friend or colleague who might be interested in the PRDL or has never utilized these resources. It is our user community that not only inspires and encourages us to keep providing innovative tools and resources to study theology, history, and philosophy, but also fuels and supports the mission to broaden access to digital sources to global academic and also church communities.

If you would like your academic institution to partner with the Junius Institute and its projects, please feel free to contact me for more information here.

100k And Beyond

Reflecting on Jordan’s post regarding the milestones PRDL hit today, David Sytsma mentioned that since 2011, PRDL has connected over 158,000 visitors from 175 countries to over 78k titles in 100k volumes, from 5,000 authors … for free.

This tool has enabled students, scholars, and pastors from universities, institutions, and seminaries around the world and from many confessional perspectives to do their research more conveniently and effectively. We could not have hit this milestone without the generous contributions of time and resources of our user community and donors. Thank you to all who have contributed, edited, used, promoted, and donated. And most importantly, this site is due to the tireless efforts of the PRDL’s moderator, David Sytsma, its executive board, and its contributing editors. Thank you all for making this possible! PRDL truly is a labor of love. It’s hard to believe that it started out just a few years ago among several doctoral students and a professor, contemplating the need to compile and disseminate sources.

PRDL is fueled by a commitment to a return to the sources for a closer reading and evaluation of viewpoints in the early modern reformations and post-reformation eras. But what makes PRDL truly unique is that we are not subscription based or controlled by a publishing house, rather we are driven by the interests and support of our users. Our goal is to help students, scholars, pastors, and seminarians engage the sources of the early modern period both to understand the past and better assist the present. Students and scholars from developing and even closed countries have thanked us for this work that brings unprecedented resources to regions that have little or no exposure to this era of history or where the costs associated with physical access are prohibitive. It is our hope to continue in this endeavor to make rare books more accessible to a global community of scholars than has been traditionally the case. With your help, I look forward to extending and expanding the sources found in the PRDL through our digitization initiative in conjunction with Hekman Library. Because we can digitize more effectively and safely than current industry standards, over the next year the Junius Institute has an opportunity to digitize 70,000 pages from 60 rare works spanning 1589-1775 housed in the Hekman Library at Calvin College. This represents just 1% of the collection.

By using the Razoo website, we are able to accept donations of any size for this project. You can find out more about this digitization effort as well as a prospectus of works in phase 1 here. The brief clip embodies the purpose and goals of the Junius Institute: “free rare books” and “free the rare books!”

Junius Institute Launches Digitization Project with Grant from Davenant Trust

Grand Rapids, MI (March 17, 2014)—The Junius Institute’s first digitization initiative of early modern sources gained important support today when the Davenant Trust announced a grant to create digital editions of the collected works of one of the most significant Reformed theologians of the sixteenth century.

Zanchi_J - Omnium Operum Theologicorum v8Girolamo Zanchi (1516-1590) was a third generation reformer, an exile from Italy who taught in the Reformation cities of Strasbourg and Heidelberg. His collected works, covering 8 total volumes and nearly 4,000 pages, were published after his death and exercised a major influence on the development of Reformed thought into the seventeenth century and beyond. The Davenant Trust is sponsoring the digitization of Zanchi’s Opera omnia, providing a significant beginning to the larger initiative to digitize the significant rare book holdings at the Calvin College campus.

“We’re excited to begin our project to create electronic editions of these major sources with the complete works of Zanchi,” said Todd Rester, director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary. “Getting high-quality digital versions of these documents into the hands and onto the hard drives of scholars is the first step in moving the next generation of scholarship forward.”

This is one of the first major grants made by the newly-formed Davenant Trust, an institution formed to advance the scholarship and reception of Reformed theology in the academy and church today. “We are very excited about this opportunity to partner with the Junius Institute,” said Dr. W. Bradford Littlejohn, president of the Davenant Trust. “Their important work in the retrieval of Reformation sources dovetails perfectly with Davenant Trust’s vision of Protestant resourcement and we expect many fruitful collaborations in future. Zanchi’s work in particular should be a cornerstone of any such resourcement, and we are eager to help bring it into wider circulation.”

The digitization of Zanchi’s collected works will feature all of the significant contributions from the pen of this noteworthy theologian. And yet these thousands of pages of published text represent just a small foretaste of a larger, multi-phase project to digitize the world-class collection of rare books at the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies and Hekman Library of Calvin College and Seminary. While the Junius Institute will continue to raise funds to eventually make available all of the rare book holdings, this initial phase will cover roughly 60 volumes and 60,000 pages of printed text.

Girolamo Zanchi (1516-1590)

Girolamo Zanchi (1516-1590)

Dr. Richard Muller, a senior fellow at the Junius Institute and the P.J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, noted that Zanchi’s contributions to the development and maturation of the Reformed tradition are often under-appreciated. “Zanchi was one of the key figures in the later generations of the Reformation. As a younger contemporary of John Calvin, Heinrich Bullinger, and Peter Martyr Vermigli, Zanchi stands as a major contributor in a variety of areas, especially in his philosophical treatises, exegesis, and doctrinal and scholastic works,” said Muller.

Zanchi’s works, like all of the project’s digital editions, will be released under a Creative Commons license, allowing wide use and distribution for academic and scholarly purposes. The digitization initiative will also create a collection of source texts that can be used for a variety of future digital research purposes and projects.

For more information:

Jordan J. Ballor
Associate Director
Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary
[email protected]

About the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research

The Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary ( seeks to further the advancement of studies in early modern (ca. 16th to 18th century) theology and interconnected disciplines through the use of digital research tools, skills, and sources; to foster the presentation, preservation, and public use of primary and secondary sources within the public domain; and to encourage via educational and curricular means the study of the documents themselves, their content, as well as the technical skills required to interpret and analyze these materials.

About the Davenant Trust

The Davenant Trust ( sponsors Christian resourcement in scholarship. The Trust’s aim is to revitalize contemporary Reformed and evangelical discourse by sponsoring scholarly endeavors at the intersection of the church and academy: the proliferation of the digital archive, the retrieval and translation of classic texts, the development and support of Christian study centers, and the sponsorship of individual scholars engaged in historical work for the sake of the contemporary church.

A Whir, Click, and Rustle

Todd Rester, Junius Institute Director

Todd Rester, the director of the Junius Institute, introduces the institute and our new digitization initiative over at the Calvin Seminary website. Click through for the whole thing, but here’s a snippet:

How do you make rare 16th century theological treasures available to students and scholars in the twenty first century? The innovative answer at the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research ( sounds like the whir of a robot, the click of a camera, and the rustle of 1,500 pages an hour.

The Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research is a new institute at Calvin Theological Seminary. This institute is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of rare works from the Reformation and post-Reformation era to students and scholars at home and abroad. The hum of these mechanized sounds emanate from an automated book scanner designed by one of the doctoral candidates at Calvin Theological Seminary, Todd Rester, who is also the director of the Junius Institute. “We have an opportunity to present and preserve the rare book holdings of the Hekman Library and the Meeter Center for Calvin Studies in a cost-effective and digital way to make a global impact.”

Todd will be posting more details soon on our proposed plan to digitize a first selection of items from the Hekman Library rare book collection and the holdings of the Meeter Center. But in the meantime, you can also view our digitization project page to see some of the very first works we have digitized.

For more information on the development of the Junius Institute, and ways to support our work, please read this letter from our director.