Calvin’s Institutes

Calvin’s Institutes would be a great addition.


I’m curious how that would work with Relight. All the resources we have so far are either commentaries or have explicit scripture proofs throughout, but a standalone resource might be a whole new data model. Is there a public domain version of the Institutes, and (more importantly) is there one with structured data from which the Scripture references could easily be linked?

I believe the Beveridge translation is available.

This bears further research, but is Relight a Reformed Study Bible? Or a Reformed resource platform?

Relight is a work-in-progress. It dreams* of one day becoming a fully-featured app for studying the Bible and theology from a reformed perspective.

I have a physical copy of McNeill/Battles, which I hear is better than Beveridge (and certainly more modern), but I’ve not actually read either all the way through. The one time I read the whole thing was when some church on the East Coast published a podcast of members reading it bit by bit over the course of a year. Sometime around 2007, I think? It doesn’t seem to be online anymore.

I’d probably get more out of the Institutes if I read it again now, though. The problem I see for Relight is that it would probably be pretty hard to figure out what sections to count as references to specific Bible passages. The resources used thus far already have the text & references correlated, so that work might need to be completed in order to use it in the app.

I also remember enjoying this, which is a short excerpt from the Institutes, but that was at least a few years ago as well. A Little Book on the Christian Life, Damask: Calvin, John, Parsons, Burk, Denlinger, Aaron: 9781567697445: Books

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If a Reformed resource platform, should it track places where resources reference each other (instead of just where resources reference the Bible, which seems to be the primary application at this point)?

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Yes! It would! I’m planning to make it one of the first systematic resources we add. If all goes well, you might see it by the end of the year.

That’s precisely why Calvin is such a great first resource. There’s a syntax around referencing his work that should make it pretty easy to auto-tag other resources that reference him. Plus there are commentaries on the Institutes that I should eventually be able to add and show in the lightbulb icon on each paragraph.

The idea is to make something that strives to show the interrelatedness of all of these resources in a relatively automated way. I like to think of it as a reformed theology study app—as well as a reformed Bible study app. Or at least that’s the dream.

I did find Battles to be easier to read, but looking back I think Beveridge is the superior translation. But it almost doesn’t matter. It’s pretty difficult to license anything from John Knox Press, but Beveridge is available on CCEL.

This is precisely the goal. I’m hoping that one day you’ll be able to read Calvin’s Institutes, see him reference some controversy, click/tap the lightbulb icon, see that Philip Schaff talked about how Calvin’s addressed this controversy in the Institutes, and get the content you need to understand what Calvin is saying. It’s ambitious, but I’m confident I’ll be able to at least have a half decent hit rate on stuff like this—which is better than the current situation of no such resource existing.

Maybe one day we’ll even have the budget to hire seminary students who need cash on the side to tag these references by hand. Obviously automated tagging can only go so far.

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Would that require some sort of external topic database? i.e. would that controversy itself need to be referenced somehow as a means of connecting the resources to each other?

Yes, sort of. The Relight database is a node-based database. The way this would work is that Socinian would have a node. One of the steps in the import process of each resource will be to lemmatize it and look for Socinian (and other words). If a variant of that word occurs, the paragraph will have a relationship to the Socinian node. The paragraph belongs to the book, and the book belongs to an author. Without having to do a search, you could quickly see how many times each author wrote about Socinianism. When looking for information on Socinians (or other controversial groups), I would weight results from historical theologies higher, as well as results that occur in a cluster of paragraphs that mention that controversy more, or a chapter in a book that has that controversy in the title.

I almost feel like I’m giving away my trade secrets, so hopefully no one out there cares too much about this. :rofl:

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I love Calvin’s “Little Book” and loan it out to others to read too. It is translated in quite readable English and I wish that the same team would do the whole Institutes.

I’ve read parts of both McNeill + Battles and Beveridge and the former is definitely more readily understandable, though I’ve read that Beveridge is a solid translation and that he prepared to translate it by reading a large amount of Calvin’s correspondence and other writings so it apparently clings to the ideas quite well.

I actually care quite a bit. This is super interesting. Lemmatization is a really cool idea, and the vocabulary database it generates is something I’d really like to dig into if I ever had the time to investigate.

Just like Zettlekasten