Van Mastricht, Petrus
Over the past decade, the project of Protestant resourcement has exploded, giving pastors, scholars, and lay-people access to the great thinkers who shaped their tradition. Despite this great progress, many treasures of Reformed theology remain obscured from the lay-person, confined to academics with a working knowledge of Latin and Biblical languages–or, if translated, affordable only by libraries with large budgets.
Synopsis of a Purer Theology, otherwise known as “the Leiden Synopsis,” is one such work. Collecting theological disputations delivered at the University of Leiden in the early 1600s, it is one of the most historically important and theologically comprehensive handbooks of Reformed theology, being a key influence for many Reformed theologians including Herman Bavinck, Abraham Kuyper, Karl Barth, Louis Berkhof, and Richard Muller. And yet, it has remained largely forgotten and left to a handful of Latin-reading scholars.
Now for the first time, the Davenant Press has published this significant work in a full English-only translation, in an affordable and concise two-volume set that includes introductory material to orient the reader to the text.
The Synopsis offers both a snapshot of the state of confessional theology in the 17th-century Dutch Reformed tradition, and also an enduring example of how the project of systematizing doctrine can serve the church. The Leiden professors modeled thoroughness and clarity of thought in the face of confusion, and a vision of irenic Christian unity over brittle doctrinal uniformity.
As Protestants endeavor both to recover their forgotten heritage and to pass it down to the next generation, we need examples of how this has been done before us. The Synopsis of a Purer Theology will serve to bring such illumination and perspective to a generation desperately in need of its boldness, clarity, and wisdom.