Making Sense of Scholastic Distinctions

Anyone interested in Scholastic theology (medieval, Roman-Catholic, or Protestant) sooner or later has to familiarize himself with the peculiar method and style of Scholastic discourse. For modern readers, the frequent use of theological and philosophical distinctions can be puzzling. Yet, as Willem van Asselt once wrote “making clear distinctions (distinguere) was the heart of the scholastic tradition.” Thus, they are of paramount importance if one wants to come to grips with Scholasticism.

Fortunately, in recent years resources have become available that make studying these distinctions possible even for those who are not well-versed in (Scholastic) Latin. The most important resource for Reformed Scholasticism is the bilingual edition of the Distictiones et regulae theologicae ac philosophicae (Theological and Philosophical Distinctions and Rules) written by Johannes Maccovius (1588-1644). This book was published in 2009 and includes not only a critical edition of the Latin text along with an English translation, but also a very valuable introduction. Its back cover reads:

Omslag_Scholastic_DiscourseThis book presents a new critical Latin edition and an English translation of Johannes Maccovius’ (1588–1644) seminal and fascinating work on theological and philosophical distinctions. Considered one of the sharpest theological minds of his time, Maccovius played an important role in ongoing debates on seventeenth-century theology, particularly in terms of his contribution to logic and metaphysics.
During the first half of the seventeenth century, his book on distinctions was a very popular class textbook used at Reformed universities and academies from England to Transylvania. It explained the main topics of early seventeenth-century Reformed theology and its basic conceptual framework and tools.
For the modern reader, it provides an answer to the intriguing question: What did seventeenth-century scholastic discourse in theology and philosophy mean in its own context? Therefore, the Distinctiones are still immensely helpful for today’s students of Post-Reformation theology who try to understand Protestant scholastic discourse in light of its own concerns and vocabulary. Moreover, the English translation of this work will allow greater access to a seminally important corpus of writings that has by now become obscure to most students.
This book is the outcome of several years of scholarship on the works of Maccovius by individuals in Europe and the United States of America.

I highly recommend this book to any serious student of (Reformed) Scholasticism. It is available from the Webshop of the Theologische Universiteit Apeldoorn for only 10 Euro.