In addition to various personal projects, I am currently involved in a collaborative effort to translate and annotate several disputations on divine providence defended at Leiden University between 1596 and 1616. Two major projects from the past include (1) my PhD research on Salomon van Til (1643–1713), a protestant theologian in the time of the early enlightenment, and (2) my contribution to the bilingual edition of the Synopsis Purioris Theologiae (1625) which was an important early modern theology  textbook. 

PhD Project (2013–2021; ETF Leuven)

Towards a Reformed Enlightenment: The Cartesio-Cocceian Synthesis in the Theology of Salomon van Til (1643–1713)

This study concerns a period of significant theological and philosophical developments in the Dutch Republic. Due to the influence of thinkers like René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, and Benedict de Spinoza, the intellectual climate began to change considerably in the course of the seventeenth century. A new intellectual current—oftentimes referred to as ‘Early’ or ‘Radical Enlightenment’—emerged which gave way ultimately to the later Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. These developments set the context for the work of Salomon van Til (1643–1713), a Reformed minister and theology professor at the prestigious University of Leiden. As a pupil of the controversial Leiden theologian Johannes Cocceius, Van Til adhered to an innovative method of biblical interpretation. At the same time, he took a sympathetic stance towards major aspects of Descartes’s philosophical ideas. This two-fold allegiance has earned Van Til the reputation of being one of the foremost proponents of the so-called ‘Cartesio-Cocceian school.’ According to leading experts in the field, this ‘school’ played a key role in the formation of the ‘Dutch Enlightenment.’ In light of this assessment, it is an astonishing fact that Van Til’s work has never been treated in any detail and that the ‘Cartesio-Cocceian school,’ to a significant degree, is still unknown territory. To remedy this situation at least in part, the present study engages in a systematic analysis of Van Til’s theological and philosophical outlook, paying close attention to the intellectual context in which it took shape. Thus, it is shown how Van Til appropriated the Cartesian separation principle, developed a system of natural theology on purely rational foundations, steered a moderate course in the debates revolving around Cartesian hermeneutics, and relied on Descartes’s metaphysics in his engagement with Spinoza’s philosophy. As regards Van Til’s theological work, the presence of a decidedly Cocceian allegiance is demonstrated in his irenic strategy to unite the quarreling factions within the Reformed Church, in his contributions to the refinement of prophetic theology, and in his concise restatement of federal theology. Based on the analyses regarding these individual aspects, this study concludes with a historical assessment of Van Til’s Cartesio-Cocceian synthesis arguing that this synthesis marks a transitional phase in the intellectual developments of the Dutch Republic. On the one hand, it rests on the confessional foundation of seventeenth-century Reformed orthodoxy. On the other hand, however, it also contributed to an intellectual dynamic leading to the emergence of what has been described as the Reformed Enlightenment in the Netherlands of the eighteenth century.

Synopsis Purioris Theologiae (2014–2020; NOSTER Research Group)

As a member of the international research group ‘Classic Reformed Theology’, I was involved in the process of translating, annotating, and editing of the Synopsis Purioris Theologiae, an important theology textbook published by four professors (Johannes Polyander, Andreas Rivetus, Antonius Walaeus, and Anthonius Thysius) of Leiden University in 1625.

The three volumes were published by Brill in 2014, 2016, and 2020, respectively. For more information on this publication see the website of the publisher (Brill) as well as the respective page on the website of the research group research group ‘Classic Reformed Theology’

Salomon van Til
Johannes Cocceius
René Descartes
Synopsis Purioris Theologiae