A new volume by V&R in the Refo500 Historical Theology series has appeared:
This study explores the Cocceian-Voetian debate through the eyes of Francis Turretin (1623–1687). There is a dearth of research on Turretin’s take on this debate, the author will parse out how Turretin adheres to the Voetianism of the Utrecht theologian Melchior Leydekker (1642–1721) while remaining conciliatory to the Cocceians. With Leydekker, Turretin argues that Christ’s suretyship in the Old Testament is identical to what it is in the New Testament. As the Father decrees that Christ is the most perfect and certain fulfiller of God’s promise, the ancients benefit from Christ’s sacrifice as much as do the saints in the New. The sins of the elect must be fully forgiven regardless of the progress of redemption in history, for the faithful both in the Old and the New are saved by the same grace of Christ, the expromissor. At the same time, not only does Turretin leave out some of the controversial issues between the two parties, but he also tends to neutralize Leydekker’s acid criticism of the extreme form of Cocceianism. This conciliatory gesture indicates that Turretin does not consider Cocceianism his archenemy. Seen in this light, Turretin can be viewed as a moderate and peaceful Voetian.
The volume at hand is, in a word, complex and specialized. It is for specialists, by one. It’s contents are neither for the faint at heart nor the poorly informed. And readers will know that when they land on the very first paragraph:
There is no scholarly consensus on the nature of the Mosaic law and its role in the history of redemption. To what extent did the Mosaic law recapitulate the covenant of works? How were the people of God saved under the legal economy? How did Christ reveal himself to his people before the incarnation? These are the key questions that should be answered when one situates the Mosaic law within the framework of covenant theology. It is little known today that the Reformed orthodox in the seventeenth century already debated over these questions.
Things don’t become simpler or less specialized as the work progresses:
This study explores this intra-Reformed controversy through the eyes of Francis Turretin. … This book will show how Turretin adheres to the Voetianism of the Utrecht theologian Melchior Leydekker (who is also known as Leydecker or Leidekker, 1642–1721) while remaining conciliatory to the Cocceians. With Leydekker, Turretin argues that Christ’s suretyship in the Old Testament is identical to what it is in the New Testament.
And off we go. In this intensive and demanding study readers come to encounter one of the most focused debates of Reformed Orthodoxy. It’s the sort of thing that makes the Medieval question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin seem like watching the Dukes of Hazzard or Gilligan’s Island. Allow me to illustrate:
Our investigation suggests that in spite of their common Voetian stance, the ninth quaestio of the twelfth locus of Turretin’s Institutio and the second liber of Leydekker’s Vis veritatas are by no means monolithic. Turretin aims his polemic at a number of the Cocceians, the plural “Viri Docti” (12.9.9), whereas Leydekker’s acerbic remarks are geared toward the problematic writer of the booklet, the singular “Vir Doctus” (a:73).
Turretin’s and Leydekker’s accounts of the Old Testament fathers’ status stands as a sequel to their treatment of the expromissio/fidejussio debate. As Turretin points out, “The quaestio about the Sponsor of the Covenant of Grace under the Old Testament” springs from “the fathers’ [Old Testament saints’] status under the Old Testament,” and therefore, deciding the nature of Christ’s suretyship greatly affects the present quaestio, De statu patrum sub Vetero Testamento.
I cite these passages to make it plain that only persons who have a quite specific interest in a quite specific slice of Reformed Orthodox debate will find the work to be of use. Generalists and those looking for a volume treating a wider aspect of Church history or Historical Theology will be nonplussed. But those who are of the sort who are the intended audience of this revised Doctoral dissertation will find it rich and full and thoroughly fascinating.
Put another way, and more colloquially, Reformed Orthodox nerds will love it! I would suggest that readers begin with Chapter 8, though, as it summarizes the argument and sort of serves as a map to the whole. Along with the usual materials in such a volume there’s also an appendix which lists the contents of Leydekker’s Vis Veritatis (which you can read online, by the way, here).