Now in Print: Junius’ The Mosaic Polity

Over at Christian’s Library Press, Franciscus Junius’ De Politiae Mosis Observatione is now available for purchase in English translation as The Mosaic Polity. 

If you are familiar with the archetypal and ectypal distinction found in Junius’ prolegomena of theology, De Theologia Vera (in translation as A Treatise on True Theology | RHB: 2014), you may be surprised to learn that this piece on law, jurisprudence, and the Mosaic polity deploys the distinction and predates that work. One of the happy results of having these two translations in print is that a broader audience can begin to see a conception of the relation between theology and law in the early modern period and how for Junius the character of God informs both.

This project is the fruit of the vision of Dr. Jordan Ballor and Dr. Stephen Grabill for early modern treatises on law, economics, and social thought from an array of Christian traditions. These scholars invited me to participate in this project as the translator several years ago, for which I am humbled, honored, and grateful. The first several chapters appeared in the Journal of Markets & Morality and led to conversations in various conference venues in the United States and abroad. The support and encouragement of the Acton Institute by way of Dr. Ballor and Dr. Grabill has been tremendous. After the draft was completed, Dr. Drew McGinnis, my friend and fellow colleague in the doctoral program at Calvin Theological Seminary, enriched the translation with his keen editorial insights over the past year or so as the editor of the work. We co-authored the introductory essay. Both Drew and I appreciated the opportunity to present on various aspects of this translation and Junius’ thought in colloquia sponsored by the Junius Institute and Calvin Theological Seminary in the Fall of 2014 and the Spring of this year. These conversations with other scholars and colleagues have assisted in some measure in spurring our thoughts to consider various lines of approach to this work. The collaboration and camaraderie on this piece has truly been a joy.

It is our hope that this piece penned for the Dutch Republic at the close of the sixteenth century will not only be of use to scholars of the period but also as a point of contact for further reflection on the Christian theological contributions to the natural law tradition that has shaped modern legal and political thought on the nature of justice, law, and human rights.

New Digital Companion: A Treatise on True Theology

The Junius Institute is pleased to announce the launch of a new project called “Digital Companions.” The idea for this project is to produce open-access digital editions of translations, enhanced with specialized and integrated hyperlinks, paired with the original language text.

A key work by the institute’s namesake, Franciscus Junius, has the honor of being the first such Digital Companion. Partnering with Reformation Heritage Books, who recently published Junius’ A Treatise on True Theology, our JI Companion links the English text on the left hand side with the printed edition of the Latin (1613 edition) on the right. Of course there are some places where the English version has no analog in the original, such as the front matter and other introductory material. But as you scroll through the contents of the source document itself on the left, the Latin page will sync on the right, making reference to the original Latin much easier as you read along.

JI research curator David Sytsma developed the companion, which includes embedded hyperlinks to other sources that are referenced as available, as well as links to author pages on the Post-Reformation Digital Library. So, for instance, when Richard Muller refers to the “friendly correspondence” between Junius and Jacob Arminius in his foreword, there are live links to both the English translation (via the Internet Archive) and the Latin text (via Google Books) embedded in the companion. Dr. Sytsma has also developed pop-ups so that when you hover over certain links you can get an overview of the person and his or her work.

There are a number of other features that you will encounter as you explore the companion, including references to the pagination of the printed text as it appears in both the English and original language publication. And speaking of the published text, be sure to check out the printed version from Reformation Heritage Books for your bookshelf. This is technology that can be used anytime regardless of access to the Internet!

We have plans to develop other digital companions in the future, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, please be sure to explore the JI Digital Companion to Junius’ A Treatise on True Theology and let us know what you think.

Colloquium: Franciscus Junius and the Development of the Reformed Tradition

The final session of the Fall 2014 Colloquium series was a panel on “Franciscus Junius and the Development of the Reformed Tradition,” featuring Dr. David Noe, Dr. Richard Muller, Mr. Todd Rester, and Dr. David Sytsma. Dr. James DeJong served as moderator for the panel and discussion, which was occasioned by the publication of Franciscus Junius’ A Treatise on True Theology.

The video for this event, which features a second screen in which Dr. Sytsma demonstrates the digital companion for Junius’ True Theology, is now available:

One Step Ahead of the Inquisition

Noblemen presenting their petition to the Duchess of Parma (April 1566). Source: DBNL: digitale bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse letteren

We have all seen movies or read novels where the hero or villain is just one step ahead of the authorities. At barely 20 years old, Junius became a minister to a Reformed conventicle in Antwerp. According to his own journal entries in November and December 1565, after presiding over a clandestine Reformed service among many leading Dutch nobility (Nov. 2), Junius was present for a key conversation involving a conspiracy to take Antwerp by military force by December 3, a plot only dissuaded by Orange himself in favor of more diplomatic means to secure toleration and prevent the arrival of the extraordinary inquisition (ordinary being local by the bishops, extraordinary commissioned by the pope). The confederacy of nobles eventually produced a compromise petition that was presented to the Duchess Margaret of Parma in April 1566.

The petition was signed by approximately 400 noblemen throughout the Netherlands–correction 400 noblemen that could raise, by some estimates, 15,000 heavily armed troops. This brief excerpt from Gerard Brandt’s The History of the Reformation in the Low Countries (1720), details how Junius barely escaped arrest in early 1566 for writing a letter to the King of Spain regarding religious conscience. Once it was discovered that the author was a French Reformed pastor operating clandestinely and illegally in Antwerp, the Marquis of Antwerp enlisted the aid of an artist/spy. The spy would infiltrate Junius’ conventicle, gain his trust, and eventually return a sketch of Junius’ likeness that he might be arrested and his quarters searched. The artist even tailed Junius back to his lodgings. You can read the excerpt to find out how this caper ended.

What a good reminder to historians and theologians how much cloak and dagger surrounded issues of freedom of conscience and toleration in the 16th century, even for a 20 year-old pastor.

Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs)

Dissertations are often a rich source for specialized research. Recent dissertations may provide a useful survey of secondary literature and typically contain an up-to-date bibliography. Sometimes the focus of the dissertation requires sustained attention to a particular text, in which case the author may include a translation of a primary source unavailable elsewhere.

However, dissertations are also among the more neglected sources. In the past there were good reasons for this. One reason was simply a lack of easy access. Dissertations were difficult to obtain until they became available on microfilm. Twenty years ago, due to the impact of University Microfilms International on the availability of microfilm dissertations, Bradley and Muller observed:

We are in the midst of a bibliographical revolution that has as much to do with unpublished as with published materials. Those of us who went through graduate school in the early 1970s used many scholarly books that failed to refer to a single dissertation. But because of the publication program of University Microfilms International, this is becoming less and less true. Good books and good contemporary dissertations will almost always refer to at least a half dozen dissertations.1

Now, as educational institutions make digitized dissertations available in PDF format, many dissertations—recent dissertations in particular—are instantly accessible. Today the scholar has no excuse for ignoring unpublished dissertations.

A variety of services provide access to downloadable PDFs of dissertations. Of course the most complete commercial service is ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, which contains full-text for dissertations published since 1997 as well as many published earlier, but it is only available at subscribing institutions. Many dissertations are also freely available. Some of the best databases for finding electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) include:

A number of libraries contain detailed lists of these repositories. There are helpful lists at Indiana University Bloomington (“Finding Dissertations: a Research Guide”) and the Library of Congress.

Dissertations do not always appear in databases. Sometimes they are available for direct download at library websites. The Hekman Library of Calvin College makes available dissertations from Calvin Theological Seminary. Many European institutions, including Swiss universities, are e-publishing their dissertations. The University of St Andrews has divinity theses available in PDF from as early as 1952. Among these is a 1979 thesis on Franciscus Junius by Douglas Judisch, “A translation and edition of the Sacrorum Parallelorum Liber Primus of Franciscus Junius: a study in sixteenth century hermeneutics.” This three volume work contains a 50-page biography of Junius, an analysis of Junius’s exegetical principles, and a full translation of the preface and first book of Junius’s Sacrorum Parallelorum (1607).

For Further Reading


  1. James E. Bradley and Richard A. Muller, Church History: An Introduction to Research, Reference Works, and Methods (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), p. 79. []