(last updated 28 August 2018)

Section headings: users of Battles’ translations should be aware that the section headings are his work and do not derive from Calvin’s text. For example, Battles 464: the title to Book 2, chapter 12 is Calvin’s own, but not the summary of sections 1-3 in italics in brackets nor the heading for section 1, similarly in italics.

Lectori; Battles, 5; OS III, 6, 30-31: instead of Battles’ ‘approach Scripture’ T.H.L. Parker, Calvin’s NT Commentaries, 53, proposes ‘approaches the commentaries’, which the context undoubtedly confirms. The Latin has no object to the verb accedat.

Lectori; Battles, 5; OS III, 6, 32: huius instituti should be ‘intention’ or ‘aim’, not ‘instruction’ (Parker, ibid.). Battles is wrong. A better translation would be design, as per Allen. The Latin phrase is huius instituti ratio, and ‘the reason for this purpose’ or ‘aim’ would not make any sense (Blacketer).

Praefatio; Battles, 23; CO 2, 34: Battles omits a phrase, specifically: hoc est, ne in sceleratum populi consensum una ipsi conspirarent.

1:9:3; Battles, 95; CO 2, 71: Battles translates translates ‘verbi religio’ as ‘religion of the Word’ though within the sentence it seems more appropriately translated as ‘reverence for the word’ (as per Norton, Allen, Beveridge). Secondly Battles ignores the word ‘illic.’ The Holy Spirit shines ‘there’ namely, in the Scripture (Blacketer).

1:10:2; Battles, 97; CO 2, 72: Battles translates ‘eam’ in the phrase ‘Nam quum eam describeret Moses, ...’ as ‘image.’ Yet ‘eam’ surely refers back to the last word in the previous sentence ‘facies’ rather than to the word ‘εἰκονικῶς’ which appears in the middle of the previous sentence. Hence Allen: ‘... an exact representation of his genuine countenance. For Moses, in the description which he gives of it ...’ (Blacketer).

1:15:6; Battles, 193; CO 2, 141: Battles wrongly translates vim concupiscendi as ‘the capacity to desire inordinately’ instead of simply as ‘the power of desiring.’ Additionally (as David Sytsma notes) Battles omits this reference to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics [who distinguishes between irascible (vim irascendi) and concupiscible (vim concupiscendi) appetites, as Calvin does here]. Battles also inaccurately cites Themistius, whom Calvin does cite but not until later in this section.

1.16.1; Battles, 197-98; CO 2, 144: Battles fails to translate singulari quadam providentia ('by a remarkable providence') (Blacketer). Battles, in fact, confuses Calvin's thought. Battles has '... not only in that he drives the celestial frame ... but also in that he sustains, nourishes, and cares for, everything he has made, even to the least sparrow.' But this is not a 'non solum ... sed etiam ...' construction. Calvin's construction is: 'neque id universali quadam motione ... sed singulari quadam providentia ...' So we find Allen: '... not by a certain universal motion, actuating the whole machine of the world, and all its respective parts, but by a particular providence sustaining, nourishing, and providing for every thing which he has made.' So Calvin seems to be eschewing a kind of mechanical conception of divine governance preferring instead a specific parental care.

1.18.1; Battles, 230; CO 2, 169: Battles' translation reads: 'Satan desperately tries to drive the holy man insane...' But the reference is to Satan's strategy with Job. The Latin: 'Molitur Satan sanctum virum desperatione adigere in furorem.' It might be rendered as: 'Satan works to drive the holy man, by way of despair, into a frenzy' (Blacketer) The French: 'd'inciter Iob par désespoir etc.' Beveridge has: 'Satan's aim is to drive the saint to madness by despair.' One could also turn desperatione into a verb: Satan strives to dishearten the holy man and drive him to folly.

2.1.5; Battles, 247; CO 2, 180: Battles has: 'But no man will wonder at the temerity of the Pelagians and Coelestians when he perceived from that holy man's warnings...' Battles incorrectly translates 'monumenta' as 'warnings,' which here clearly means writings or works. The Latin is: '... qui ex illius sancti viri monumentis perspexerit ...'. He also should have written: 'when he has perceived...' (Blacketer).

2:2:26; Battles, 286; CO 2, 207: Battles misunderstands the sentence beginning Nihil ergo…. Battles’ rendering is: ‘Therefore whether or not man is impelled to seek after the good by an impulse of nature has no bearing upon the freedom of the will.’ But as Calvin refers in the preceding sentence to a natural inclination which both animals and humans possess, it is clear that in the sentence beginning Nihil ergo, Calvin is drawing the conclusion that this natural inclination towards good cannot possibly be used as an argument for free will, since humans possess it in common with animals (Richard Muller, The Unaccommodated Calvin, 259 n.60). Beveridge comes closer to the sense of the text: ‘The question of freedom, therefore, has nothing to do with the fact of man’s being led by natural instinct to desire good.’

2.8.59; Battles, 401; CO 2, 309. Battles obscures Calvin's meaning by translating 'venialia' as 'pardonable' rather than simply as 'venial,' as Beveridge does.

2:14:1; Battles, 482; OS III, 458, 18-19: e Virginis utero templum sibi delegit should be ‘he chose for himself from the Virgin’s womb a temple.’

3:3:1; Battles, 593; OS IV, 55, 16: continuo means ‘immediately, promptly’, not ‘constantly.’

3:3:19; Battles, 614; OS IV, 77, 15. Battles’ ‘both kinds of grace’ too loosely translates utraque gratia, which carries no implication of different kinds. In the context, ‘each grace’ would sufficiently point to the ‘each of two’ which utraque conveys. An earlier translator (Beveridge) gives ‘both graces’. See also on 3:11:1.

3:4:2; Battles, 625; OS IV, 87, 20. Perhaps the fault of McNeill’s editing error, Battles’ translates the phrase ut quisque amare deflendo sua peccata se ... magis acuat in such a way that the verb acuat is left out entirely. His reading ‘what his displeasure and hatred’ should be ‘whet’ or ‘incite his displeasure ...’. Beveridge gives ‘stimulate himself more and more to dislike and hate.’

3:11:1; Battles, 725; OS IV, 182, 9. Battles seems to avoid the clear meaning of the Latin in writing ‘the second of these gifts’. It should be simply ‘the second grace’ (quae secunda est gratia). Earlier in this section Battles rightly translates Calvin’s duplicem gratiam as ‘a double grace’ – although most Calvin scholars prefer ‘twofold grace’. See also on 3:3:19.

3:11:6; Battles, 732; OS IV, 187, 21-22: percipimus – ‘receive’, not ‘perceive.’

3:20:37; Battles, 900; OS IV, 347, 10-12: Battles omits a negative here, and should read ‘his father’s heart cannot pretend not to be moved by such entreaties’ (non enim tum se paterna viscera dissimulare possunt quin ad tales preces commoveantur).

4:8:16; Battles, 1165; OS V, 150, 18-21: Battles misconstrues the construction, and potentially the meaning, of the sentence beginning Nemo excepit…. By omitting his ‘to the notion’ one gets it more or less right: ‘No one objected that the church could add something of its own, that the Spirit had not revealed everything to the apostles, or at least had not transmitted everything to posterity.’ The rendering of the third clause varies among translators, since some (e.g. Beveridge, Allen) assume that ‘the apostles’ must be the subject of prodidisse (‘or at least that the apostles had not transmitted everything to posterity’), but this assumption seems quite insecure.

4:15:22; Battles, 1323; OS V, 303, 19-20: Accedit postea sacramentum sigilli instar should be rendered ‘There is added afterward a/the sacrament like a seal’ (Battles: ‘a sort of seal is added to the sacrament’).

4:16 title; Battles, 1324; OS V, 303, 32-33: optime is probably not so much ‘best’ as ‘very well’, since both comparatives and superlatives were widely used to express emphasis ( and of what could infant baptism be said strictly to be ‘best’?).

4:16:1; Battles, 1324; OS V, 304, 8: Battles omits to translate non parum habitura sit momenti: ‘so to organize this discourse that it will have no little importance for explaining the mystery of baptism more clearly’ [perhaps clarius better ‘very clearly, really clearly’, without strict comparative force].

4:16:5; Battles, 1328; OS V, 309, 9-10: ad infantes destinetur Baptismi verbum, not simplistically ‘the word “baptism”’, but ‘the word of baptism’ in the sense of ‘the promise, meaning, substance of baptism.’

4:16:20; Battles, 1343; OS V, 324, 33: ‘regeneration’ instead of ‘resignation.’

4:16:27; Battles, 1350; OS V, 332, 8-11: Battles’ translation is at best ambiguous: ‘For they make more than a merely childish error when from these passages [i.e. Matt. 28.19, Mark 16.16, Matt. 3.13, Luke 3:21-22] they derive the first institution of baptism which [quem, i.e. baptism] from the beginning of his preaching ….’

4:17: 10; Battles, 1370-71; OS V, 352: in this section Battles translates three times the verb exhibeo and once the noun exhibitio by ‘show, showing’. Without entering into debates about Calvin’s theology of the supper, we can all agree that ‘show’ is an inadequate rendering of exhibeo.


Anonymous said...

Hello folks, wonderful project. Regarding the comments about Battle's translations of "exhibeo" and "exhibitio" in the section 4:17: 10, what would you suggest would be better renderings?

Presumably you consider the "show" that Battles uses a little anaemic, what would better convey Calvin's original thought?

Hans S, New Zealand

George P. Moseley said...

Great project. I am glad you are working on it. I am reading the Institutes now, and I will try to refer back here on a regular basis to see if there are any corrections in the sections I am reading. You can track my progress at my Coffee With Calvin blog. Thanks for your work.

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Tim said...

3:4:2; Battles, 625; first sentence of third paragraph: 'what his displeasure and hatred' should be 'whet'.

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Ric Eddings said...

1:10:2, pg. 97,fn. 5, Battles has "autonsian" but it should be "autousian". Had to transliterate here.

Dr. Raymond A. Blacketer said...

Re: Lectori; Battles, 5; OS III, 6, 32: huius instituti should be ‘intention’ or ‘aim’, not ‘instruction’ (Parker, ibid.). Battles is wrong, but a better translation would be design, as per Allen. The Latin phrase is huius instituti ratio, and "the reason for this purpose" or "aim" would not make any sense. --Randy Blacketer

Dr. Raymond A. Blacketer said...

Battles, Praefatio, vol. 1, p. 23:

In such manner Isaiah of old instructed God's elect not to "call conspiracy all that this people call conspiracy," "not" to "fear what they fear, nor be in dread" thereof, but rather to "hallow the Lord of Hosts and let him be their fear and dread" [Isa. 8:12-13].

Battles omits a phrase; restored, it should read:

Battles, Praefatio, vol. 1, p. 23.

In such manner Isaiah of old instructed God's elect not to "call conspiracy all that this people call conspiracy," [that is, they should not join in a conspiracy together with the wicked consensus of the people,] "not" to "fear what they fear, nor be in dread" thereof, but rather to "hallow the Lord of Hosts and let him be their fear and dread" [Isa. 8:12-13].

My revised translation:
Thus Isaiah once taught the elect of God: Do not call conspiracy everything that the people call conspiracy; that is, they should not join in a conspiracy together with the wicked consensus of the people, nor fear what they fear, or what they dread, but rather sanctify the Lord of hosts, that the might be their fear and their dread (Isa. 8:12[-13]).