Announcing new translation project

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Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hi friends! I'm looking to start a new translation project and I made a Patreon page, which is a sort of crowd-funding.
Here is a bit of information about the project:

I am beginning the translation of Johannes Hoornbeek’s Institutiones theologicae ex optimis autoribus concinatae [Institutes of Theology Harmonized from the Best Authors] and I would like your support on Patreon.

What does this book bring to the table?

This book is a systematic presentation of Reformed Orthodoxy composed 100% of direct quotes from “the best authors”. That is, Zwingli, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Vermigli, Zanchi, Musculus, Sohn, Junius, Piscator, Aretius, Bucanus, Trelcatius, Polanus, Paraeus, Gomarus, Walaeus, Alting, Ames, Maccovius, Spanheim, Voetius, Maresius, and Wendelin. Most of these quotes are rather brief, although Hoornbeek includes extended citations where warranted, meaning that the work covers a lot of ground and addresses all the major loci of systematic theology.

Who’s Johannes Hoornbeek?

Johannes Hoornbeek was a student of Gisbertus Voetius. During his relatively short life he was a professor at the universities of Utrecht and Leiden. He is a very sound writer in the Reformed Orthodox tradition that took a special interest in cultivating Reformed piety.

Was this book important in its own day?

This book was an influential textbook in the Netherlands, replacing the Synopsis purioris theologiae, itself a very famous work, as Leiden’s standard textbook.

If this book is just a collection of citations from other authors, can’t I just read them instead?

For the most part, the cited works are not available in English, although a few are. Moreover, Hoornbeek adds a lot of value by systematizing their thought in a single volume. I believe that when this work is available, it will be one of the premiere works from the era available in English.

How does my support help make this work available in English?

Your support will allow me to dedicate more time to translating this work.

Do I have to wait until you’re done to read it?

No! My patreon supporters will get monthly access to what I’ve been working on.

How long until you finish?

My initial goal is to translate 25 pages per month, but the more support I receive, the more I’ll be able to progress.

Does supporting you on Patreon guarantee me a copy of the book when you finish?

Unfortunately, no, due to printing costs, although I hope to work with the eventual publisher to get my supporters a discount.

I would rather you translate something else. Can you?

I will allow my Patreon supporters to vote on what work I translate next once I’m done with this, so please join!
 

mgkortus

Puritan Board Freshman
Charles, can you speak to the differences between this work and Heppe's Reformed Dogmatics? Sell us on why Hoornbeek’s work is an important addition (and please know that I say that as one who is very willing to be convinced).
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
Question: will you be proofing Hoornbeek's citations against the original sources, and providing references for their occurrence (if missing from the citations)?
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Charles, can you speak to the differences between this work and Heppe's Reformed Dogmatics? Sell us on why Hoornbeek’s work is an important addition (and please know that I say that as one who is very willing to be convinced).
I'll have to get back to you on this, as I don't own a copy, but to speak very broadly, I think there's some value in not just having an arrangement of the sources, but to have them arranged by a distinguished period theologian of the confessional era, so that we're getting what the Reformed church of the 17th century valued from writers of the 16th and 17th centuries, rather than what was thought important by 19th century dogmaticians. Along those lines Hornbeek includes ecclesiology and political theology. But Heppe may very well be a valuable effort; I'm simply not familiar with him. I'll try to attain a copy to offer a better comparison.
Question: will you be proofing Hoornbeek's citations against the original sources, and providing references for their occurrence (if missing from the citations)?
Sure, I can do this.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Please do not think I am trying to discourage you, but I do have some questions.

Can you please outline your credentials for translating Latin manuscripts? How long have you trained in Latin? Where have you studied Latin? Will you have your translation checked by other Latinists? Are you open to having your work checked?

As you know, translation work of this caliber is a serious matter and should be handled with the utmost care. Any project such as this should be rigorously checked for accuracy.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Please do not think I am trying to discourage you, but I do have some questions.

Can you please outline your credentials for translating Latin manuscripts? How long have you trained in Latin? Where have you studied Latin? Will you have your translation checked by other Latinists? Are you open to having your work checked?

As you know, translation work of this caliber is a serious matter and should be handled with the utmost care. Any project such as this should be rigorously checked for accuracy.
Sure, I'll take your questions in order.
1. My main qualifications for translating latin are that I have a Bachelor's in Linguistics and a fair amount of experience translating.
2. My Latin is primarily self-taught. I have been studying Latin since 2018. To be frank, I do not believe that having studied at a certain school for a certain amount of time is a strong indicator of proficiency in any language. Are my translations as spotless as Dr Noe's? No. But it is evident to me that not all of the translations rhb has published have been of high quality, even though all of the translators have been well-credentialed, and I don't doubt that my own translations will be more faithful to the original text than some of these, in spite of my lack of credentials.
3. I do not have the money to hire anyone to check my work, but if a publisher would like to hire someone to check my work, and they were someone whose work who I held in high esteem, such as Dr. Noe, Dr Rester, etc, I would be more than happy to submit my work to their review.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
World literature is a love of mine, and some self-taught translators I've read are extraordinarily gifted in their work.

Besides which, if we always waited for people with the right credentials to come along, some things would never get done. Or even worse, they might get done boring -- a grave sin against the original.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
On the one hand, one can't get better without freshman efforts; we don't want to fall into that fault where the perfect is the enemy of the good. On the other hand, one does not wish to see works done poorly and making it impossible for a better effort because that first one saturates what is already a small market demand. I've seen this. So, I have had my freshmen and sophomore efforts; I was pretty green and naive about the work. But I have also taken occasion to redo them knowing far more from experience now 30+ years on. Rather than let those early efforts stand, I thought I had a responsibility to do them better.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
I'm also of the mind that, generally, it's better to encourage this sort of activity than discourage it (I signed up as a probationary Patreon). It would be too easy to discourage any translation work because we're waiting for the best translator in the world to come along. Which may never happen, and meanwhile these works continue to stay in Latin.

For me, there are still many of Calvin's sermons that have never been translated from Latin (or French), and I think that's a shame. Banner of Truth seems to have its priority upon re-translating sermons that have already been translated into English, some multiple times! I'd rather see work done on ones that have never been translated, personally.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Sure, I'll take your questions in order.
1. My main qualifications for translating latin are that I have a Bachelor's in Linguistics and a fair amount of experience translating.
2. My Latin is primarily self-taught. I have been studying Latin since 2018. To be frank, I do not believe that having studied at a certain school for a certain amount of time is a strong indicator of proficiency in any language. Are my translations as spotless as Dr Noe's? No. But it is evident to me that not all of the translations rhb has published have been of high quality, even though all of the translators have been well-credentialed, and I don't doubt that my own translations will be more faithful to the original text than some of these, in spite of my lack of credentials.
3. I do not have the money to hire anyone to check my work, but if a publisher would like to hire someone to check my work, and they were someone whose work who I held in high esteem, such as Dr. Noe, Dr Rester, etc, I would be more than happy to submit my work to their review.
I was not here to debate your proficiency; I simply asked about your background.

My initial response was much lengthier as I disagree with a few of your statements, but I do not have time to debate this topic, nor do I think this thread is the place. I do not want to distract from your project.

I will say your response to my questions was telling. I would encourage you to have more humility regarding your level of experience.

David Noe is a dear brother and co-laborer for my congregation; I will pass along your respect for his work.
 
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Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
For me, there are still many of Calvin's sermons that have never been translated from Latin (or French), and I think that's a shame. Banner of Truth seems to have its priority upon re-translating sermons that have already been translated into English, some multiple times! I'd rather see work done on ones that have never been translated, personally.
I can assure you that there is a major translation in the works for Calvin's sermons, though I am not at liberty to give more details at the moment. It is upon a portion of Scripture that has never been translated. I have read the first sermon.

Speaking of, I have also read some portions of the new translation of Calvin's Institutes by Crossway.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
As evidence of my beef with Banner of Truth, I present this:

2020 "Crucified and Risen", already translated into English twice: 1581 and 1950, the latter translation reprinted in 2011.
2019 Sermons on 2 Timothy, already been translated into English in 1579, republished in facsimile in 1983, and republished in 2016 in updated language and font
2018 Sermons on 1 Timothy...ditto
2016 Sermons on Job volume 2, already translated into English, republished in facsimile in 1993, and 20 selected sermons retranslated in 1952 (republished in 2011)
2015 Sermons on Job volume 1...ditto
2015 Sermons on Titus...ditto

Thankfully MacGregor did the Genesis and Acts ones. And White did a few smaller collections but the focus definitely seems to be on re-doing ones already in English.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
some self-taught translators I've read are extraordinarily gifted in their work.
Were you able to verify this by consulting the original languages that they translated? Gifted in English prose does not equate to being gifted as a translator.
 
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Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
I'm also of the mind that, generally, it's better to encourage this sort of activity than discourage it
Trust me, I lament daily that there are so many riches of Reformed and Patristic theology sitting untranslated. I rejoice when I hear that a young person has aspirations of laboring to change this problem. But one should crawl before they run—i.e., start off with sermons versus a Dogmatics containing highly nuanced and precise Latin.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Trust me, I lament daily that there are so many riches of Reformed and Patristic theology sitting untranslated. I rejoice when I hear that a young person has aspirations of laboring to change this problem. But one should crawl before they run—i.e., start off with sermons versus a Dogmatics containing highly nuanced and precise Latin.
Theologically nuanced does not equate to linguistically difficult. About the easiest Latin one can read is Aquinas, but his theological system is famously dense. With all due respect, I am starting with the linguistically simpler material. More difficult Latin would be Cicero and Vergil. As for my own humility, humility is not thinking more highly of oneself than one ought. If you have not compared my translations to the originals, I'm not sure on what basis you have evaluated exactly how I ought to think of myself. I readily admit that I'm not the best - those guys I mentioned are the best - but I won't lie and say I'm the worst, either. I'm not interested in putting on a show of false humility.
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Were you able to verify this by consulting the original languages that they translated? Gifted in English prose does not equate to being gifted as a translator.
Personally, no. But I read those who did hold expertise in the language and they approved the translations as perhaps not flawless, but excellent, oh the whole.
 
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