Corrections and Suggestions for Kuyper’s Stone Lectures
by Harry Van Dyke
NOTE: These comments are based on a cursory reading and comparison between Lectures on Calvinism (Grand Rapids, 1931) and Het Calvinisme (Amsterdam, 1899). Alternatives follow the symbol L. They are in no way meant to be definitive; they merely indicate my unhappiness with the English text as it now reads. Probably a word-by word comparison would yield even more reasons for change.
BACKGROUND: The text of the Stone Lectures was originally composed in Dutch and translated into English by the author. After it was corrected by a Dutch-American friend, the author finalized the text with the help of the family’s live-in English governess.
The first lecture was slightly revised aboard ship coming over. For some reason the author did not submit the prepared English version but a Dutch manuscript to Princeton with the request to have it translated. Professor Warfield quickly assigned the six lectures to six different men. This “Princeton text” was printed in a very limited run and one copy was used by Kuyper as he presented the lectures. The following year the Stone Lectures were published by Revell of New York and T & T Clark of Edinburgh. When Warfield saw the published work he bemoaned the fact that the author had done some more editing in the English which had not improved it. In the same year 1899 a Dutch edition of the Stone Lectures was published by Höveker and Wormser of Amsterdam. There is every reason to assume that this Dutch version is the only authorial text of the lectures since it was in the author’s native tongue and overseen by himself. Today, a new English translation should be based on this 1899 Dutch text.
“Life-system” is sometimes hyphenated, sometimes not.
3rd paragraph: to use another simile L . . . metaphor
. . . and although you are outstripping us in a most discouraging way, you will never forget that . . . L this clause is absent from the Dutch ed.
salutiferous L salutary, wholesome
“Down with the scoundrel” L Crush the infamous
We no more need a God L We no longer want [OR wish to have] a God
circumference L periphery
with its threatening declensions L with its questionable [OR dubious] declensions
life among those nations was spontaneous and devoid of calculation
L those peoples lived a spontaneous, unexamined life
strength for resistance L power to resist
that Calvinism is not a partial, nor was a merely temporal . . .
L . . . nor a merely temporal . . .
But this of course very really implied L But this of course certainly implied
devoid of deliberate compact, none so unconventional . . .
L devoid of agreement, of plan, of radiation from one central point, than . . .
the tendency and the construction of our life
L the style and direction of our life
to lord over one another L to lord it over one another
By better labor L By a more solid work ethic
[for: deger arbeidzaamheid]
. . . the world corrupted the Church
L . . . the world in the Church corrupted the Church
placed to the front L placed to the fore
stadium L stage [passim]
Just because in their progressive development L Precisely because . . .
Call to mind L Add to this
The struggle of the Boers in the Transvaal
L . . . in the Transvaal during the past twenty years
[extra phrase from the Dutch ed.]
NOTE: In general, the English translation has the mistaken tendency to render the present perfect tense (heeft genomen) with the present perfect in English (has taken) instead of the simple past (took).
In the first part of Lecture II: Calvinism and Religion, Kuyper writes:
. . . Frost and hail, snow and vapor, the abyss and the hurricane— everything does praise God. But just as the entire creation reaches its culminating point in man, so also religion finds its clear expression only in man who is made in the image of God, and this is not because man seeks it, but because God Himself implanted in man’s nature the real essential religious expression, by means of the “seed of religion” (semen religionis), as Calvin defines it, sown in our human heart.
God Himself makes man religious by means of the sensus divinitatis, i.e., the sense of the Divine, which He causes to strike the chords on the harp of his soul. . . .
—A. Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1931), 45f.
This is the version in the extant English translation. Now I will translate the same passage from the original Dutch and add some bold letters:
. . . Frost and hail, snow and vapor, the abyss and the storm— all must praise God. But just as the entire creation reaches its culminating point in man, so also does praise find its fulfillment only in man who is made in the image of God, and this not because man seeks it, but because God Himself implanted the only genuine religious expression exclusively in man’s heart through the “seed of religion” (semen religionis). God Himself makes man religious through the sensus divinitatis, i.e., the sense of the Divine, which He causes to play on the strings of his heart.
—A. Kuyper, Het Calvinisme; zes Stone-Lezingen in October 1898 te Princeton (N.-J.) gehouden (Amsterdam: Höveker & Wormser, 1899), p. 39.
Thus the published text in English differs from the Dutch text which flowed from Kuyper’s own pen. In two places where Kuyper talks of the heart, the translation has nature and soul. Discrepancies like this go back to the six people engaged in the work of translating the text before the lectures were delivered; see Peter S. Heslam, Creating a Christian Worldview: Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 59–63. The scrupulous claim that the English text must be regarded as authoritative is therefore doubtful at best.
My third lecture leaves the sanctuary of religion and enters upon the domain of the State—the first transition from the sacred circle to the secular field of human life. Only now therefore we proceed, summarily and in principle, to combat the unhistorical suggestion that Calvinism represents an exclusively ecclesiastical and dogmatic movement.
The religious momentum of Calvinism has placed also beneath political Society a fundamental conception, all its own, just because it not merely pruned the branches and cleaned the stem, but reached down to the very root of our human life.
. . . That Calvinism has led public law into new paths, first in Western Europe, then in two Continents, and today more and more among all civilized nations, is admitted by all scientific students, if not yet fully by public opinion.
Cf. Dutch ed. of 1899 (retranslated):
My third lecture leaves the field of religion, to enter upon the domain of the State—the first transition from the sacred sphere to the broad terrain of life in the world. Thus we shall now go on to present a principled and substantial refutation of the misconception that Calvinism was a movement in church and theology only.
Calvinism’s religious momentum undergirded political society, too, with a distinctive fundamental conception, precisely because it did not just prune the branches and purify the stem but touched the very root of human life.
. . . That Calvinism led constitutional law into new paths, first for Western Europe, then in two continents, and today increasingly for all civilized nations, is admitted in all scholarly studies, if not yet in public opinion.
NOTES: —In my dissertation about Groen’s Lectures, pp. 214–16, I explain why “constitutional law” is to be preferred over “public law.”
—Puzzling is the term in this sentence: “The testimony of history is unassailable that this constitutional public law has not . . .” L “ . . . that constitutionalism has not . . .”
—Down the page: Is the preferred spelling for “discernable” not “discernible”?
—After the Bancroft quote, the Dutch ed. continues with a reference to Groen van Prinsterer’s “Calvinism: Origin and Guarantee of Our Constitutional Liberties.” This may be an addition for the benefit of Dutch readers. Is it also in the “Princeton text”? The text is now available in The Kuyper Reader edited by James D. Bratt.
—After the sentence “But Calvinism has done more.” the Dutch ed. has a sentence about the “depth of sin.” Another later addition?
—Should the original German quotations from Von Holz and later from Weitbrecht and Held remain, or should only the English translation be kept (with perhaps the original German in footnotes)?
—In the quote from Weitbrecht, I would replace “responsibility” with “accountability.”
—Is it possible that the German historian Von Holtz or Von Holz later became the American historian H. von Holst? They sure sound alike in their interpretation of the French Revolution! This deserves a closer look.
—The close of the paragraph containing the words “. . . where that unity is broken, there liberty will dawn as a matter of course” is very different in the Dutch ed.
—In the case of “. . . exaggerated Puritanism” for “puritistisch” it is doubtful whether Kuyper intended a reference to that historical movement rather than simply saying “puritanical” or even “purist.”
—Between the sentence ending in “ . . . from a Calvinistic standpoint.” and the sentence starting with “The sovereignty of the State . . .” we do not have the very enlightening sentence that appears in the Dutch ed.
—“Paternal authority” does not “root itself” but “is rooted.”
—The sentence starting with “Knighthood . . . “ can be improved L The order of knights, the rights of towns, guilds and so much more at that time still led to the self-assertion of social “estates” or “order” endowed with autonomy . . .
—Just above, after point 3, the Dutch ed. has this sentence:
“But this is exactly what gives rise to friction and the danger of collision.”
—At the beginning of the “third and last part of this lecture” Kuyper refers to the “motto” he wrote above [at the top of?] his “Weekly paper” “A free Church in a free State.” Was it not De Heraut? And is such a motto not called an “epigraph”?