Reading Turretin

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Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Hello, brothers and sisters.

I have a love of reading systematic theology, especially the "dead guys." However, with Turretin's Institutes, I need some help. I can pick up Calvin, and he is pure joy—it's actually fun to read him. I can pick up à Brakel, and he is so enriching from a practical perspective. I can even pick up Bavinck and fall in love with his vast and thorough research mixed with pastoral warmth. However, when I pick up Turretin, I find that I become exhausted within the first couple of pages. I know the Giger translation isn't exactly new, but I find his sentence structure and vocabulary to be much, much more difficult than any of the authors mentioned above. Is this anyone else's experience with Turretin vs. other writers? Do not misunderstand me: I fully adore the value of Turretin, and thus desire eagerly to read his work, but I am finding it difficult.

My question is this: Other than slowing way down when I read him, are there any other helps anyone on this board can give me to aid in my reading of Turretin? I could try a dictionary, but I fear that some of the verbiage Turretin uses would be difficult to grasp with only a dictionary.

Any and all help is appreciated.There is no doubt this is, in part, simply the outcome of a tiny brain encountering the towering intellect of one of Christianity's finest.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
And just think, you (and I, I'm not from another time) have hard-slogging with Turretin, and much younger men that we typically are, going to college/seminary in the 1700s/1800s, were reading him in the Latin. He was a standard systematic text at Princeton/College of N.J., and that is surprising to many.

The problem is with us, with our preparation. My best recommendation is that you just discipline yourself to the labor, go slower, keeping in mind the purpose for the author's words. It should reward you. Think of the effort as an extended project.

Try reading Turretin in tandem with (relevant sections) Dabney, who will often cite Turretin at the beginning of his sections (i.e., he expected his students to read topically what he was about to lecture on from various authors; and what we have of Dabney is his printed lectures, taken from student notes).

http://www.pbministries.org/R. L. Dabney/Systematic Theology/systematic_theology.htm

Hope this is helpful.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Polemical theology can be difficult to work through but it is always rewarding. The mechanisms in a doctrine are uncovered and explored so as to bring out the function and relation of even the smallest component.

You could try mapping out the paragraphs as you go. Begin with the original question, and note the basic point being proven and who are the opponents involved. Then there will usually be a discussion of the "state of the question," i.e., what is and is not in debate, and any common ground that is shared. This is followed by the proofs drawn from Scripture and reason.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
However, when I pick up Turretin, I find that I become exhausted within the first couple of pages.

In that case, you should restrict your reading to a few pages at a time and perhaps only read it on a Sabbath afternoon. I have done this with many of the harder books for years and should you do likewise you will be surprised how much you get through.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
In that case, you should restrict your reading to a few pages at a time and perhaps only read it on a Sabbath afternoon. I have done this with many of the harder books for years and should you do likewise you will be surprised how much you get through.

I try to do the same with Turretin. I personally find him to be more of a marathon than a sprint. He is enriching, and he is challenging and there is no reason to try to finish him tomorrow
 
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