HARTFORD — Celebrating the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth in 1509: John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion have been a mainstay in Reformed Protestant theological education for centuries, a model for how to think through Christian beliefs in a coherent way, shaping the theological minds of countless pastors and their teachers.
The version of the Institutes most late-20th century seminarians read was the 1960 translation done by Hartford Seminary professor Ford Lewis Battles, which was based on Calvin’s eighty chapter 1559 Latin revision. But the Institutes first appeared in 1536, a mere six chapters, written by Calvin when he was 27 years old. It was offered as a short statement explaining the biblical beliefs of the then very recently emerged Protestant movement. It was a fresh and exciting clearing of the deck. Calvin began expanding it almost immediately, and in 1541 sent his own French translation of it to press. Written in the vernacular, this French version had lay Christians in mind – the many recent converts who were experiencing persecution – and offered a very pastoral approach to basic Christian beliefs that might sustain them.
For the first time, this 1541 French version of the Institutes has been translated into English by Elsie McKee, and published this year by Eerdmans. McKee will help us to understand how the Institutes evolved, and to hear once again Calvin’s pastoral voice from the early years of the Reformation.
Professor Kelton Cobb will reflect on ways in which Calvin has impacted our culture, and offer some collected memories of Hartford Seminary’s own Battles who, like McKee, dedicated many years to awakening the voice of Calvin from across the centuries.
McKee, Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship at Princeton Theological Seminary teaches courses on the theology of Calvin and prayer practices in Christian history. McKee’s diverse interests span the history of the church, exegesis, theology, and worship, especially in the Reformation; women and laity in the Reformation and Christian history; John Calvin’s sermons, commentaries, and doctrine of the church; and Katharina Schuetz Zell and lay theology. Among her publications are “John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion,” “Katharina Schuetz Zell, Church Mother: The Writings of a Protestant Reformer in Sixteenth-Century Germany,” and “John Calvin: Writings on Pastoral Piety.” An ordained Presbyterian elder, she is a member of the North American Liaison Board for the Protestant University of Congo, where she spent much of her youth, which supports theological and medical education in that country.
Cobb is Professor of Theology and Ethics at Hartford Seminary and author of “The Blackwell Guide to Theology and Popular Culture.” Cobb edits the book journal Conversations in Religion and Theology.
This event is open to the public without charge.
Celebrating the Calvin Jubilee
The Institutes in the Making: John Calvin’s Pastoral Voice
Don’t miss this special program with
Princeton Theological Seminary Professor Elsie McKee and
Hartford Seminary Professor Kelton Cobb
Monday, November 23
At: Hartford Seminary, 77 Sherman Street, Hartford
Click here to register online: http://www.hartsem.edu/events/2009_John_Calvin.html
Or RSVP to Yvette Law, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 860.509.9555