Bavinck, Vos, van Mastricht, Brakel

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Stephen L Smith

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I have been chatting to friends who are avid lovers of theology but do not have the time or money to read everything, therefore one has to prioritise.

I have selected these 4 classic works in the suggested order of purchase. Thoughts?
  • Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics (Bavinck has a full coverage of theology including a full Prolegomena
  • Vos' Reformed Dogmatics
  • Brakel's The Christian's Reasonable Service
  • van Mastricht's Theoretical-Practical Theology
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Maastricht is incomplete at this time, and will be for a number of years to come, so I don’t know why they would purchase that at the moment.

Bavinck and Vos are quite expensive, although valuable.

The kicker is that Brakel is free. His work is also exceptionally comprehensive and pastorally valuable. Why wouldn’t this be #1?
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
Dutch much?

Just kidding. I don't think this is a bad list, but I would also see a Brakel as a better launchpad. I'd put him at the start of the list, followed by Bavinck, Vos, and Van Mastricht.
 

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
I have been chatting to friends who are avid lovers of theology but do not have the time or money to read everything, therefore one has to prioritise.

I have selected these 4 classic works in the suggested order of purchase. Thoughts?
  • Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics (Bavinck has a full coverage of theology including a full Prolegomena
  • Vos' Reformed Dogmatics
  • Brakel's The Christian's Reasonable Service
  • van Mastricht's Theoretical-Practical Theology
I plug Á Brakel any opportunity I get. Also, if they only dabble in theology, he is the clear choice.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
Personally, I have been a bit disappointed by A Brakel in his treatment of the topics I have referenced. If I really want to understand an issue, I would personally put him below Bavinck, Berkhof, Turretin, Culver and maybe even Grudem. Perhaps I am not reading the same selections of him that some of you are.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
I have been chatting to friends who are avid lovers of theology but do not have the time or money to read everything, therefore one has to prioritise.

I have selected these 4 classic works in the suggested order of purchase. Thoughts?
  • Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics (Bavinck has a full coverage of theology including a full Prolegomena
  • Vos' Reformed Dogmatics
  • Brakel's The Christian's Reasonable Service
  • van Mastricht's Theoretical-Practical Theology
In terms of paper vs. electronic cost alone:

Brakel - free in electronic format, or $80 for paper
Vos - around $120 in paper, $75 electronic
Bavinck - around $180 in paper or electronic
van Mastricht - not applicable until you have the full systematic available

That said, I regularly point to Berkhof as a trusted starting point in systematic theology. ;)
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Personally, I have been a bit disappointed by A Brakel in his treatment of the topics I have referenced. If I really want to understand an issue, I would personally put him below Bavinck, Berkhof, Turretin, Culver and maybe even Grudem. Perhaps I am not reading the same selections of him that some of you are.

Brakel below Grudem? Wow. I'm curious: What do you find so lacking in Brakel? Not that I think Grudem a hack job, but putting Brakel below Grudem is something I've never heard before.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Maastricht is incomplete at this time, and will be for a number of years to come, so I don’t know why they would purchase that at the moment.
I included this on the basis of Edward's recommendation knowing that the series was ongoing (hence I put it at no 4)
Edwards said "As to the books you speak of: Mastricht is sometimes in one volume, a very large thick quarto, sometimes in two quarto volumes. I believe it could not be had new under 8 or 10 pounds. Turretin is in three volumes in quarto, and would probably be about the same price. They are both excellent. Turretin is on polemical divinity, on the 5 points & all other controversial points, & is much larger in these than Mastricht, & is better for one that desires only to be thoroughly versed in controversies. But take Mastricht for divinity in general, doctrine, practice & controversy, or as an universal system of divinity; & it is much better than Turretin or any other book in the world, excepting the Bible, in my opinion.”

The kicker is that Brakel is free. His work is also exceptionally comprehensive and pastorally valuable. Why wouldn’t this be #1?

I would also see a Brakel as a better launchpad. I'd put him at the start of the list

I plug Á Brakel any opportunity I get. Also, if they only dabble in theology, he is the clear choice.
I put Bavinck first because of his full Prolegomena. With challanges to the doctrine of scripture an ongoing issue, Bavinck's Prolegomena is very valuable. Also useful for many of the key epistemological discussions going on today.

That said, I regularly point to Berkhof as a trusted starting point in systematic theology.
Yes, Berkhof is a nice summary of Bavinck's and Vos' Reformed Dogmatics with other valuable insights.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I would go for Herman Bavinck, though I also like Geerhardus Vos's Reformed Dogmatics. I have found Vos's writings that were translated from Dutch to English easier to read than his other works, which I wish that someone would translate into plain English. ;)
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
What do you find so lacking in Brakel?

No Systematic does everything one would want. That has been painfully obvious to me as I have referred to about 12 over the last 8 weeks as I have been putting together and teaching through a theology proper Sunday School class.

A Brakel is just uneven in his treatment of topics on the being of God at times. For instance, the topics that get less treatment than some of the others I referenced are the names of God (only a couple names treated), holiness (less than a page, definition of which at variance with other systematicians), goodness (about a page). I do appreciate his pastoral bent in offering application but personally, I find application much easier to do myself than getting my mind around a concept and its relation to other doctrines (which is what I look to systematicians to help me understand). I just looked over his discussion of God's will (which I am covering this week) and that is much more thorough then some of the previous I have looked at.

Again, I am just referencing these works for topical study so perhaps A Brakel is better in areas than the ones I have been referencing for my particular need at this time. When I really want to understand a concept, I haven't found A Brakel yet to really help me in ways other systematics have.
 
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