By Steve Bishop
Almost all of Kuyper’s writings were in Dutch. Until the Abraham Kuyper Translation Project was launched in 2011 only a small selection of Kuyper’s works was available in English. Kuyper has had many translators over the years. These are often the unsung heroes of the Kuyperian tradition. This is an attempt to highlight some of the key translators.
Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology
One of Kuyper’s first major works to be translated into English was the Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology. Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949) of Princeton Theological Seminary and a colleague of B. B. Warfield, was originally to be the translator of Kuyper’s Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology. Vos worked too slowly for Kuyper’s and the publisher’s needs. J. H. De Vries took over even though Vos had doubts about De Vries’s lack of academic training. (Harinck, 2011). Vos thus suggested the Hebrew scholar Abel Henry Huizinga and at the time a minister at the Reformed Church, New Paltz. Huizinga’s work was halted by his appointment as professor of Old Testament Literature and Exegesis, at McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago. Another translator was used, Jacob Poppen (1858–1920). Poppen was appointed professor at Gakuin Seminary in Tokyo and so also had to be relieved of translation duties! However, it was De Vries who went on to complete the published translation – although by this time to book was abridged for the US market.
Geerhardus Vos also translated “Calvinism and confessional revision” for publication in The Presbyterian and Reformed Review in 1891.
Lectures on Calvinism is perhaps the best known of Kuyper’s work. It was first published in English shortly after Kuyper gave the lectures. It is still in print. The translation history is something of a puzzle.
According to a note written by Prof. B.B. Warfield (1851–1921) see above, the translators of the lectures were:
- Revd J. H. De Vries (see 1892.05) (lectures 1 and 5)
- Dr A. H. Huizinga (see 1898.12), (Lecture 2)
- Dr Henry E. Dosker, (Lecture 3)
- Dr N. M. Steffens (see 1903.16), (Lecture 4)
- Geerhardus Vos (see 1891.07) (Lecture 6)
There is some dispute over the accuracy of Warfield’s note. It seems Kuyper reworked the translations with the help of Ethel Ashton. Ashton had been employed to teach Kuyper’s children English conversation.
Rev. J. Hendrik De Vries (1859–1939), was for many years Kuyper’s “authorized translator”. De Vries was born in Amsterdam, graduated from Rutgers College and New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and held pastorates in American Presbyterian and Protestant Episcopal churches including the Second Presbyterian Church in Princeton, New Jersey. Calvinism and Art (1892) was the first translation by De Vries. He subsequently translated the majority of Kuyper’s works in English until De Vries’s death in 1939.
Henri De Vries (1847–1932) – the brother of John. A pastor of the Reformed Church in Peekskill, New York. He translated The Work of the Holy Spirit. He also wrote a series of devotional studies. He is not to be confused with the Dutch actor of the same name (1864-1949).
Henry Zylstra (1909-1956) – translated Women of the Old Testament (1933), Women of the New Testament (1934), and The Implications of Public Confession (1934). Women of the Old Testament was the first book published by Zondervan. He was paid $50 for the translation rights. Some of the articles had been previously translated by J. H. de Vries for the Christian Intelligencer magazine during the period 1901-1908.
James Bratt (editor) Abraham Kuyper A Centennial Reader, published to mark the centennial of Kuyper’s Stone Lectures, contained several short articles by Kuyper. The translators included:
- John Vriend (1925-2002) (Uniformity, Conservation and orthodoxy, It shall not be so among you, Perfectionism, Common grace, Maranatha, Our instinctive life) Vriend was one of the founders of the Dutch Translation Society. He was also the translator of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics.
- Reinder Bruinsma (Confidentiality, Manual labor). Bruinsma is a Seventh Day Adventist minister.
- J. H. De Vries (Modernism, Calvinism: source and stronghold, Blurring of the boundaries).
- Alfred E. Fletcher (1841-1915) (South-African Crisis)
- George Kamp (1904-1978) (Evolution, Sphere Sovereignty). Kamp served after he retired from Standard Oil as a statistician for Calvin College. (Gordon Spykman (1923-1996) and Harry der Nederlander (1944-2008), a former editor of Christian Courier, had also translated Sphere Sovereignty – as had Wayne Kobes of Dordt College).
- Hans van de Hel (Common grace in science).
Herman Hanko translated and published in the PRC’s The Standard Bearer extracts from A pamphlet concerning the reformation of the church. Hanko was a professor of church history and New Testament at the Protestant Reformed Seminary in Grandville, Michigan (1965-2001).
Marvin Kamps was the translator of Particular Grace. He is also the author of 1834: Hendrik de Cock’s Return to the True Church. He was a minister in the Protestant Reformed Church including the Southwest Protestant Reformed Church, Grandville from 1985-1993.
Pieter C. Tuit, a professor of missiology at Calvin Theological Seminary (2001-2009) translated “Missions according to Scripture” in Calvin Theological Journal (2003).
Revd G. M. van Pernis (1889–1968) translated selected parts of Kuyper’s E voto Dordraceno.
Revd Richard Stienstra a minister of several churches in North America translated Kuyper’s Angels: God’s Ministering Spirits.
Jan Boer – for many years Boer was a Christian Reformed Church missionary in Nigeria. He now lives in Vancouver, DC and maintains the Reformational website http://www.socialtheology.com/
His Kuyper translations can be found here: https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SocialTheology
Walter Lagerwey (1918-1983) Professor of Dutch language and literature at Calvin College. Was partly responsible for the translation of Kuyper’s “Evolution” in the Calvin Theological Journal
Marian M. Schoolland (1902-1984) was the translator of The Practice of Godliness (1948-1984). She was the daughter of Klaas Schoolland (1851-1938), a professor at what is now Calvin College. She wrote A Godly Heritage, a biography of her father as well as several children’s stories. She was an elementary school teacher.
James A. De Jong – translated “The worship of the Reformed Church and the creation of its service book.” Calvin Theological Journal 50(1):59-90 and Honey from the Rock. He is a former president of Calvin Theological Seminary.
Our Worship (2009)
Translated by Harry Boonstra, Henry Baron, Gerrit Sheeres, and Leonard Sweetman. The book was edited by Boonstra, who is the emeritus theological librarian of Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was the product of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s Liturgical Studies Series.
Collected Works in Public Theology (2015-2022)
The most recent major translation project has been the 12 volumes in The Collected Works in Public Theology under the general editorship of Jordan J. Ballor and Melvin Fikkema.
Common Grace – volumes 1-3 (2015, 2019, 2020)
The three volumes were translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman and Ed M. van der Maas. Nelson Kloosterman is the Executive Director and Ethics Consultant for Worldview Resources International. He has previously been a professor of Ethics and New Testament at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Ed van der Maas has been a senior editor at HarperCollins Christian Publishers/Zondervan in Grand Rapids. He is an associate editor for The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements.
Pro Rege – volumes 1-3 (2016, 2017, 2019)
Translated by Albert Gootjes, a professional translator and editor. He was a post-doctoral researcher at Utrecht University and a PhD student at Calvin College, Grand Rapids.
Previously sections of Pro Rege had been translated by Jan Boer
Our Program (2015)
Harry Van Dyke is Professor Emeritus in History at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, and Director of the Dooyeweerd Centre for Christian Philosophy. He studied under H. Evan Runner and M. C. Smit. His doctoral dissertation was on Groen van Prinsterer and supervised by A. Th. van Deursen. There is an interview with van Dyke here.
On the Church (2016)
Revd Arjen Vreugdenhil – church minister at Eben-Ezer Canadian Reformed Church in Chatham, Ontario.
Todd M. Rester associate professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary, he is also a translator for the Dutch Reformed Translation Society.
On Islam (2018)
Jan van Vliet is a professor of economics at Dordt College.
On Education (2019)
John Bolt is an emeritus professor of theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. And is editor of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics. There is an interview with Bolt here.
Harry Van Dyke
On Business and Economics (2021)
Harry Van Dyke
Ed M. van der Maas
On Charity and Justice (2022)
Harry Van Dyke
Herbert Donald Morton (1940-2012)
Yet to be translated
There are still some key works of Kuyper’s that have yet to be translated – any takers? These works include:
- Drie Kleine Vossen – his reflections on intellectualism, mysticism and practicalism
- His lecture notes: Dictaten dogmatiek van Dr. A. Kuyper
- His Reflections of the Heidelberg Catechism E Voto Dordraceno
- Volume 1 and 3 ofhis Encycloedia of Sacred Theology
- Uit het Woord. Stichtelijke bijbelstudiën – devotional studies from the Scriptures
Which other of Kuyper’s works would you like to see translated?
 Apologies if any have been inadvertenlty omitted.
 See the excellent discussion in George Harinck 2022. “Lost in Translation: The First Text of the Stone Lecture.” In Jessica R. Joustra and Robert J. Joustra (eds) Calvinism for a Secular Age: A Twenty-First-Century Reading of Abraham Kuyper’s Stone Lectures. Downers Grove: IVP Academic
Steve Bishop is an independent researcher based in Wales, UK. He maintains the neo-Calvinist website www.allofliferedeemed.co.uk. He is a trustee of Thinking Faith Network and an Associate Fellow at the Kirby Laing Centre for Public Theology. He earned his doctorate at the North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa (2019), supervised by Renato Coletto. He is the co-editor of On Kuyper: A Collection of Readings on the Life, Work & Legacy of Abraham Kuyper (Dordt Press, 2013).