Calvins Institutes -Battles translation imminent prepub

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Mike Pettit | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Apr 14 2013 7:42 AM

Over the years there has been much discussion of the various translations of Calvins Institutes, however the long awaited prepub of the 1960 Battles translation is now scheduled for publication on 13/05/2013 at $49.95 following which its price will increase to $80.

A major selling point of this edition are the very extensive (and that is an understatement) notes and footnotes by the editor (McNeill) however the fact that this is also a fairly modern (1960) translation (by Battles) is often overlooked.

In English we have translations in Logos:


1561 Thomas Norton

1813 John  Allen

1845 Henry Beveridge


To help people make up their own mind as to whether they would find the Battles translation useful here are extracts from the first paragraphs of the first chapter of the first book of the Institutes:



That the knowledge of God, and of our selves, are things conioyned: and how they be linked the one with the other

 The whole summe in a maner of all our wisedome, which onely ought to be accounted true and perfect wisedome, consisteth in two partes, that is to say, the knowledge of God, and of ourselves. But whereas these two knowledges be with many bondes linked together: yet whether goeth before or engendreth the other, it is hard to discerne. For, first no man can looke upon himselfe, but he must needes by and by turne all his senses to the beholding of God, in whom he liveth and is mooved: bicause it is plaine, that those giftes wherewith we be indued, are not of our selves, yea, even that that we have being is nothing els but an essence in the one God. Finally, by these good things that are as by dropmeale powred into us from heaven, we are led as it were by certaine streames to the spring head. And so by our owne needinesse, better appeereth that infinite plentie of good things that abideth in God. Specially that miserable ruine, whereinto the fall of the first man hath throwne us, compelleth us to lift up our eies, not onely being foodeksse and hungrie, to crave from thence that which we lacke, but also being awakened with feare, to learne humilitie. For as there is found in man a certaine worlde of all miseries, and since we have beene spoyled of the divine apparell, our shamefull nakednesse discloseth an infinite heape of filthie disgracements: it must needes be that every man be pricked with knowledge in conscience of his owne unhappinesse to make him come at the least unto some knowledge of God. So by the understanding of our ignorance, vanitie, beggerie, weakenesse, peruersnesse, and corruption, we learne to reknowledge that no where else but in the Lord abideth the true light of wisedome, sound vertue, perfect abundance of all good things, and puritie of righteousnes. And so by our owne evils we are stirred to consider the good things of God: and we cannot earnestly aspire toward him, until we begin to mislike our selves. For of all men what one is there, that would not willingly rest in himselfe? yea, who doth not rest, so long as he knoweth not himselfe, that is to say, so long as he is contented with his owne giftes, and ignorant or unmindfull of his owne miserie? Therefore every man is by the knowledge of himselfe, not onely pricked forward to seeke God, but also led as it were by the hand to finde him.


The Connexion between the Knowledge of God and the Knowledge of ourselves

TRUE and substantial wisdom principally consists of two parts, the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves. But while these two branches of knowledge are so intimately connected, which of them precedes and produces the other, is not easy to discover. For, in the first place, no man can take a survey of himself, but he must immediately turn to the contemplation of God, in whom he “lives and moves:”a since it is evident that the talents which we possess are not from ourselves, and that our very existence is nothing but a subsistence in God alone. These bounties, distilling to us by drops from heaven, form, as it were, so many streams conducting us to the fountain-head. Our poverty conduces to a clearer display of the infinite fulness of God. Especially, the miserable ruin, into which we have been plunged by the defection of the first man, compels us to raise our eyes towards heaven, not only as hungry and famished, to seek thence a supply for our wants, but, aroused with fear, to learn humility. For since man is subject to a world of miseries, and has been spoiled of his divine array, this melancholy exposure discovers an immense mass of deformity: every one therefore must be so impressed with a consciousness of his own infelicity, as to arrive at some knowledge of God. Thus a sense of our ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, depravity, and corruption, leads us to perceive and acknowledge that in the Lord alone are to be found true wisdom, solid strength, perfect goodness, and unspotted righteousness; and so, by our imperfections, we are excited to a consideration of the perfections of God. Nor can we really aspire toward him, till we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. For who would not gladly rest satisfied with himself? where is the man not actually absorbed in self-complacency, while he remains unacquainted with his true situation, or content with his own endowments, and ignorant or forgetful of his own misery? The knowledge of ourselves, therefore, is not only an incitement to seek after God, but likewise a considerable assistance towards finding him.


the knowledge of god and of ourselves mutually connected.—nature of the connection


  1. The sum of true wisdom, viz., the knowledge of God and of ourselves. Effects of the latter.

  2. Effects of the knowledge of God, in humbling our pride, unveiling our hypocrisy, demonstrating the absolute perfections of God, and our own utter helplessness.

  3. Effects of the knowledge of God illustrated by the examples, 1. of holy patriarchs; 2. of holy angels; 3. of the sun and moon.

1. Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes, and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty. In particular, the miserable ruin into which the revolt of the first man has plunged us, compels us to turn our eyes upwards; not only that while hungry and famishing we may thence ask what we want, but being aroused by fear may learn humility. For as there exists in man something like a world of misery, and ever since we were stript of the divine attire our naked shame discloses an immense series of disgraceful properties, every man, being stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness, in this way necessarily obtains at least some knowledge of God. Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us, (see Calvin on John 4:10,) that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. For what man is not disposed to rest in himself? Who, in fact, does not thus rest, so long as he is unknown to himself; that is, so long as he is contented with his own endowments, and unconscious or unmindful of his misery? Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him.





Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern. In the first place, no one can look upon himself without immediately turning his thoughts to the contemplation of God, in whom he “lives and moves” [Acts 17:28]. For, quite clearly, the mighty gifts with which we are endowed are hardly from ourselves; indeed, our very being is nothing but subsistence in the one God. Then, by these benefits shed like dew from heaven upon us, we are led as by rivulets to the spring itself. Indeed, our very poverty better discloses the infinitude of benefits reposing in God. The miserable ruin, into which the rebellion of the first man cast us, especially compels us to look upward. Thus, not only will we, in fasting and hungering, seek thence what we lack; but, in being aroused by fear, we shall learn humility. For, as a veritable world of miseries is to be found in mankind, and we are thereby despoiled of divine raiment, our shameful nakedness exposes a teeming horde of infamies. Each of us must, then, be so stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness as to attain at least some knowledge of God. Thus, from the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and — what is more — depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone. To this extent we are prompted by our own ills to contemplate the good things of God; and we cannot seriously aspire to him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves. For what man in all the world would not gladly remain as he is— what man does not remain as he is — so long as he does not know himself, that is, while content with his own gifts, and either ignorant or unmindful of his own misery? Accordingly, the knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it were, leads us by the hand to find him.

Posts 205
Stephen Paynter | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Apr 14 2013 9:52 AM

Thank you for this. It is helpful. I knew the Battles translation was imminent, but was wavering over whether to shell out hard earned dosh for yet another version of the Institutes ... but this reminded me that if I am every to read them, this is the only version I will ever bother to plough through. So ... Thanks!

Posts 65
Randy Marsh | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 15 2013 3:55 PM

I have been waiting on this translation to come out.  I just wish it was available in time for a class that I am finishing up this semester in which we are supposed to read Calvin's Institutes.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 15 2013 5:03 PM

I can't wait. I've been looking forward to having this in Logos for a long time!

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Gabe Martini (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Apr 15 2013 8:03 PM

I have an original 1960 hardcover of this edition, and it is far and away my favorite translation of the Institutes. Very glad to be able to offer this edition!

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