Amandus Polanus, “The Substance of Christian Religion”

Robert Letham has said that “Amandus Polanus is one of the most significant dogmaticians of early Reformed orthodoxy.” Born Amandus Polanus von Polansdorf (16 December 1561, Opava, Silesia – 17 July 1610, Basel, Switzerland) was a German theologian of early Reformed orthodoxy. After his education in Opava, Wrocław, Tübingen, Basel, and Geneva (1577–1584), he served as a tutor to the family of Zierotin in Heidelberg and Basel (1584–1590), and later taught at the Bohemian Brethren school in Ivančice. Between 1591 and 1595 he again tutored for the Zierotins, traveling from Moravia to Strasbourg and Basel.

Polanus spent the last part of his life in Basel, where he became professor of Old Testament in April 1596, and later that same year married the daughter of the professor of ancient languages, Johann Jakob Grynaeus (1540–1617). Polanus also served as a dean of the theological faculty between 1598 and 1600, and again later between 1601 and 1609, and he was rector of Basel University in 1600 and 1609. He wrote the three volume dogmatic work Partitiones theologicae (Divisions of Theology) and Syntagma theologiae christianae (translated in English as A System of Christian Theology). In 1603, based on Luther’s translation, Polanus composed the first Calvinistic German translation of the Bible. His major systematic works are marked by Aristotelian causal analysis and, most strikingly, by the methodology of Ramism. He showed concern for precision and clarity of presentation and polemical defense of Reformed doctrine. Yet he showed little interest in metaphysical speculation. His doctrine of God was central but it, and predestination, were balanced by other interests: Christology, covenant, ethics, and praxis. A consolidator not an innovator, his concern was to preserve Reformed teaching, so serving the contemporary needs of the church.

[NOT A FACSIMILE. This is a transcription of the original translation by Elijahu Wilcocks]

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