[K:JNWTS 26/1 (2011): 7-29]

More Vos Letters

Annotated by James T. Dennison, Jr.

Grand Rapids, Mich.
Dec. 13th, [18]89

Dear Professor [Warfield],

This is the best I could do in the limited time, and I hope it will at least give some general idea of the work.[1] There are many other points on which I might have touched and I deliberated for a moment as to whether the notice should not be confined to the first half of the book. No doubt you will find my English faulty in more than one respect, for I had to write in great haste. Please correct what admits of correction without too much trouble on your part.

My time will probably permit me to prepare something for your Review during the course of 1890.[2] Dr. Steffens[3], of the seminary of the Reformed Church at Holland, Mich., could perhaps assist me in preparing an annual or semiannual review of Dutch theological literature.[4] After having seen him about this, if we can come to an arrangement, I shall let you know in time.

Will the new Review be published by the Scribners?[5]

Very truly yours,

G. Vos


[1] Vos is referring to his Book Review of Leesboek over de Gereformeerde geloofsleer, by H. E. Gravemeijer. It would appear in the initial (January) number of the newly inaugurated Presbyterian and Reformed Review 1 (1890): 146-149.

[2] Cf. Vos's bibliographical entries for 1890 in LGV, p. 90. In fact, he provided only this piece for the Review that year.

[3] Nicholas M. Steffens (1839-1912), Professor at the theological seminary of the Reformed Church in America (now called Western Theological Seminary) in Holland, Michigan from 1884-1895 and 1903-1912. Cf. the letter of April 9, 1890, LGV, p. 138.

[4] Never accomplished. Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck would make occasional contributions to the Review; cf. the remarks in Kerux: The Journal of Northwest Theological Seminary 25/3 (December 2010): 7.

[5] The Review was published by Anson D. F. Rudolph & Co. of Philadelphia.

Grand Rapids, Mich.
February 3rd, 1890

Dear Prof. [Warfield],

I have written to Dr. K.[1] about the desired article and urged him to undertake the writing. As soon as I receive a reply, I shall let you know. Dr. Steffens has promised to do his share in preparing an annual or semi-annual review of Holl. Theological literature,[2] and I have tried to make arrangements with a friend in Holland who will keep me supplied with every publication of scientific importance.[3] I have not heard from him yet, however and this was the reason that I did not write you more definitely. Should I receive something worthy of notice in due time, I might perhaps send you a short review of it for the April number, but all depends on the promptness of my correspondent. At any rate you can count on a notice for July.[4] I enquired about the publication of the Review because the circular sent me had been lost and I did not know when or where it would appear.[5]

Very truly yours,

G. Vos


[1] Abraham Kuyper, who was asked to provide an article on either "Recent Theological Thought in Holland" or "Recent Dogmatic Works in Holland" for the Presbyterian and Reformed Review; cf. the letter of Vos to Kuyper of Feb. 1, 1890 in LGV, 133-35, esp. 134.

[2] Nicholas M. Steffens; cf. the previous letter in this issue of Dec. 13, 1889, n. 3.

[3] The "friend" was Herman Bavinck; cf. Vos's letter to him of Feb. 1, 1890 in LGV, 131-33, esp. 132.

[4] For the context of this offer, see Vos's letters to Warfield of April 9, 1890, June 13, 1890 and July 2, 1890 in LGV, 138-40. The review in question was of Abraham Kuenen's Historisch-critisch onderzoek naar het ontstaan en de verzameling van de boeken des Ouden Verbonds: De profetische boeken des Ouden Verbonds. It appeared in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review 2 (1891): 139-40.

[5] Cf. the previous letter in this issue of Dec. 13, 1889, n. 5.

Grand Rapids, Mich.
February 19th, [18]90

Dear Prof. [Warfield],

Wildboer's Ontstaan van der Kanon etc.[1] is of 1889 according to a review of it by Kuenen in Theologisch Tijdschrift of November 1889.[2] It is not in my possession and I am not very familiar with the questions involved. To write a review of Kuenen's Prophets would suit me better, if I could have the book for a couple of weeks.[3] The last part which I received was published in 1887 and treats of the historical books of the OT.[4] Is the second part in the library at Princeton and could you have it sent to me? If so, I shall try to have a notice ready by April 1st.[5] I have not heard from Dr. K[uyper] yet.

Very truly yours,

G. Vos


[1] Gerritt Wildeboer (1855-1911), Het onstaan van de Kanon des Ouden Verbonds (1889). English translation of the 2nd Dutch edition of 1891—The Origin of the Canon of the Old Testament: An Historico-Critical Enquiry (1895).

[2] Abraham Kuenen (1828-1891), Theologisch Tijdschrift 23/6 (November 1889): 644-47.

[3] Cf. note 4 of the previous letter, Feb. 3, 1889.

[4] Historisch-critisch onderzoek naar het ontstaan en de verzameling van de boeken des Ouden Verbonds: Thora en de historische boeken des Ouden Verbonds (Deel 1, 1887).

[5] The volume arrived in Grand Rapids sometime before April 9; cf. LGV, 138.

Grand Rapids, Mich.
October 14th, [18]90

Dear Professor [Warfield],

Dr. Kuyper has sent me an article destined for the Presbyterian and Reformed Review, and bearing the title "Calvinism and Revision."[1] It is impossible for me to state in a few words the contents of the paper, except that it tries to answer the following questions:

  1. Has a specific tendency which, like Calvinism, leads to a separate organization, a right to existence within the Christian Church?
  2. Which peculiar tendency does Calvinism represent?
  3. How has this tendency found its expression in the Symbols[2] of the Reformed Churches?
  4. Which are the conditions that, in case of a further development of Calvinism, the revision of the Symbols must comply with?

I am sorry to say that the paper is longer than you had contracted for. In the Holland language, it contains about 15,000 words, and covers 44 pages of the Review size. Dr. K. has had the type set in Holland, as his intention is to publish it in the original, after the appearance of the translation in the Review.

At your request, I had written how large a paper was desired and was somewhat surprised to see the limits overstepped to such an extent. You will understand, I hope, that I am not to blame for this.

Can you publish the paper as a whole, and shall I proceed accordingly with the translation? If so, when would you like to have the English?[3]

I saw in the Review advertiser Dr. Bavinck's name has been misspelled. It should read Bavinck.[4]

Hoping to hear from you in this matter at your earliest convenience, I remain

Yours very truly,

G. Vos

48 Spring Street


[1] Published as "Calvinism and Confessional Revision," (Translated by Geerhardus Vos). Presbyterian and Reformed Review 2 (1891): 369-99.

[2] Refers to Confessions of Faith or Creeds; from ecclesiastical Latin symbolum ("creed" or "confession of faith"). Cf. Symbolum Apostolorum, i.e., the "Apostles' Creed."

[3] For the balance of Vos's correspondence on this matter, see the letters dated Oct. 27, 1890 (to Kuyper), Jan. 31, 1891 (to Warfield), Feb. 12, 1891 (to Warfield), Feb. 21, 1891 (to Kuyper), Mar. 12, 1891 (to Warfield), July 30, 1891 (to Kuyper), LGV, 144-66 passim.

[4] Herman Bavinck.

[January 4, 1892][1]

Dear Prof. [Warfield],

The translation of Dr. B.'s[2] paper was sent by me the day after Christmas. I trust you will find it at Princeton, and suppose you had left home already when it arrived. Owing to a cold which I contracted some weeks ago, I could not fulfill my promise of letting you have it Dec. 15th. Hope it has not been lost in the mail. Please send me a line that I may know whether everything is all-right.

Yours very truly,

G. Vos


[1] This note is also listed under the date Dec. 26, 1891 in the Warfield papers. However, the postmark from Grand Rapids is plainly dated Jan. 4.

[2] Herman Bavinck's, "Recent Dogmatic Thought in the Netherlands." Presbyterian and Reformed Review 3 (1892): 209-28. As editor of the Review, Warfield had solicited Vos in 1890 to make contact with Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck for material reflecting current Reformed thought in Holland. Cf. Vos to Bavinck (Feb. 1, 1890) and Vos to Kuyper (Feb. 1, 1890) in LGV, 131-35. The ensuing negotiations, concessions and frustrations are detailed in letters among the four in LGV, 139-69 passim.

Grand Rapids, Mich.
July 9th, [18]92

Dear Prof. Warfield,

You hereby receive the promised notice of Van Leeuwen's Prolegomena of Biblical Theology.[1]

I have not forgotten what you wrote regarding the article on Kuenen.[2] If you have not found anybody else, I should like to undertake the task. The great difficulty is to obtain the sources here. Many important articles of K[uenen] appeared in the Theologisch Tijdschrift,[3] and to this I have no access.

The subject of the covenant is resting for the present.[4] I wrote a long time ago to Prof. Mitchell[5] making use of your card, but have not as yet received a reply.

Our Synod has called Prof. Steffens[6] to the fourth chair in the Seminary. I hope he will accept, though undoubtedly he is doing a good work for the Western section of the Reformed Church.

In the old country the two churches of the "Separate" and "Doleantie" have become united.[7] The name is henceforth to be "Reformed Church of the Netherlands". There is great rejoicing. It is surely a hopeful sign that a country, in which eighty years ago the situation was well-nigh desperate, now contains seven hundred Calvinistic Churches presenting a united front to the enemy.

Our summer vacation has just commenced. You will probably receive one of our graduating students at Princeton next year.

After a little rest, I shall be preparing myself for the future.

I hope you are in good health and enjoying the time of vacation.

Yours sincerely,

G. Vos


[1] Review of E. H. van Leeuen, Prolegomena van bijbelsche godgeleerdheid in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review 4 (1893):143-45.

[2] Abraham Kuenen; cf. Vos's letter to Warfield of Mar. 18, 1892, LGV, 170-71.

[3] Vos's letters to Herman Bavinck dated Feb. 1, 1890 and Mar. 4, 1890 (LGV, 131-33 and 136-37 respectively) indicate that he did, at one time, have access to and read this journal.

[4] Vos comments on the doctrine of the covenant in several letters: Feb. 12, 1891 (to Warfield), Feb. 21, 1891 (to Kuyper), Mar. 12, 1891 (to Warfield), May 13, 1891 (to Bavinck), July 7, 1891 (to Warfield), Aug. 29, 1891 (to Warfield), Sept. 28, 1891 (to Warfield), July 3, 1893 (to Bavinck), Nov. 21, 1893 (to Bavinck), Feb. 1, 1894 (to Bavinck), Feb. 19, 1932 (to F. W. Grosheide), LGV, passim. To these epistolary remarks must be added his own penetrating rectoral address on the subject—De Verbondsleer in de Gereformeerde theologie (1891), translated by Richard B. Gaffin as "The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology," in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation (1980) 234-67.

[5] Likely Alexander F. Mitchell who, with John Struthers, edited the Minutes of the Sessions of the Westminster Assembly of Divines . . . (1644-49) for publication in 1874.

[6] Nicholas F. Steffens, Professor at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan from 1884-1895. Thus, he clearly declined the appointment to Grand Rapids.

[7] By "Separate", Vos means the churches of the 1834 Afscheiding (Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken) who had withdrawn from the state church in reaction to its deadening rationalism. "Doleantie" means "sorrowing" which defined Kuyper's withdrawal from the state church after the suspension of himself and his consistory in December 1885. When the Synod upheld the suspension, Kuyper gathered with his followers on Sunday, July 11, 1886 to form the first of the Doleantie congregations. The union of 1892 produced the Gereformeerde Kerken Nederlands (cf. LGV, 127 n. 11).

Grand Rapids, Mich.
January 6th, 1893

Dear Professor Warfield,

Here are two notices, one of a book on Alexander Cromrie, a doctor's dissertation of the Free University, the other on Dr. Kuyper's latest speech.[1] It is possible that you received both books yourself and have written on them? If so, please lay my work aside.

Dr. K's speech is very interesting. Should you not have seen it, I shall be glad to let you have my copy. Comrie is the man whom he follows closely in his views on justification, regeneration and faith. The only point of difference is that Comrie did not teach the early regeneration of all infants from within the covenant. If you are interested in the book on Comrie and have not received it, I can send it along with the other.

With my article on Kuenen, I have not made much progress.[2] My health is much better than it used to be, but I must be very careful, not to overtax my strength. Apart from my regular work at school, I try to avoid doing more than is absolutely necessary.[3]

In Holland very little seems to appear at present. At least, I receive very little, though they promised to send me everything of importance. A couple of weeks ago the second part of Van Leeuwen's Biblical Theology came out containing the doctrine of God. As soon as possible, I shall review this.[4]

Dr. Bavinck has not sent me his remarks yet on the union of the two churches in Holland.[5] He wrote about the pleasant interview he had with you at Princeton, and that you had given him ample time for preparing his account of the late events over there.[6]

There has been some talk in various quarters about effecting a similar union here between the (Dutch) Ref. and the Holl. Chr. Ref. Church.[7] I am afraid people are not ripe for it. The remarks on Free-Masonry in De Heraut of some weeks ago, have stirred up that question again, and but little good can come of it.[8]

I look forward with pleasure to the time, when we shall come together.[9] May the new year be blessed for you and all the brethren.

Yours very truly,

G. Vos


[1] Review of A. G. Honig, Alexander Comrie in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review 5 (1894): 331-34. Kuyper's speech (De verflauwing der grenzen) was reviewed by Vos in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review 4 (1893): 330-32 (cf. LGV, 91).

[2] His review of Kuenen's Historisch-critisch onderzoek naar het ontstaan en de verzameling van de boeken des Ouden Verbonds: De profetische boeken des Ouden Verbonds had appeared in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review 2 (1891): 139-40 (cf. also LGV, 136-40). This letter reflects further on matters found in a letter to Warfield dated Mar. 18, 1892 (cf. LGV, 170-71, esp. n. 2).

[3] Vos's health was evidently fragile, as his letters frequently comment on his physical limitations; cf. LGV, 23, 117, 119, 125, 126, 178, 223, 224, 225 and the additional letters in this issue.

[4] Apparently, never accomplished; cf. Vos's bibliography in LGV, 89-112.

[5] Formation of the Gereformeerde Kerken Nederlands in 1892.

[6] Refers to Bavinck's "The Future of Calvinism" (translated by Geerhardus Vos) in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review 5 (1894): 1-24.

[7] Vos is referring to the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and the Christian Reformed Church (CRC).

[8] For Vos's reflections on the "Lodge", see the Index to LGV, sub Freemasons, p. 264.

[9] Vos was extended a call to teach at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1891, but declined the offer (see his letter to Warfield dated Mar. 18, 1892, LGV, 170). However, the call was renewed in the spring of 1893 (cf. his letter to Warfield dated Mar. 31, 1893 in this issue which gives the date of his reception of the renewed invitation as March 30). As he was eager to leave Grand Rapids, Vos acceded to the persistence of his former teachers and joined them as the first Professor of Biblical Theology at Princeton in September 1893 (for the background, see LGV, 29-33).

48 Spring Street
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Jan. 30th [18]93

Dear Prof. Warfield,

Please forward the books referred to, and I shall try to let you have a brief notice of them by April 1st.[1]

Very sincerely yours,

G. Vos


[1] These appear to be books by Herman Schultz (Old Testament Theology) and A. F. Kirkpatrick (The Doctrine of the Prophets) which were briefly reviewed by Vos for the Presbyterian and Reformed Review 5 (1894): 132-33 and 138-39 respectively; cf. LGV, 91.

48 Spring Street
March 31, 1893

Dear Prof. Warfield,

Here are the two notices I promised you for April 1st. I tried to make them as brief as possible.[1]

Dr. Bavinck's article on the union of the churches in Holland in its significance for the future of Calvinism has been in my possession for some time. It is quite a long paper, but I have promised to condense. Please state how many words you will make the maximum. Also about what time you will want it.[2]

I read with much pleasure part of your article on Inspiration in the Review which I received yesterday. Your statement of the case is admirable for its clearness and force. As soon as I can find time, I hope to read the remaining part.[3]

Yesterday I also received a renewal of the invitation by the Directors to come to Princeton.[4] I am glad that my mind has been made up now, and that it will be unnecessary to go through the painful experience of last year again.[5] Of course propriety makes it unavoidable that I shall wait some time before announcing my decision.[6]

Prof. Steffens told me recently that his students had been offered the Review at half price. Would it be possible to offer the same rates to our students here? Most of them are poor. I know that several of them would like very much to read the Review, and it would be good for them to become acquainted with its contents.

My health, though not worse than it has been for some time, is still rather frail.

Hoping you are well, with fraternal greetings to all,

Yours very sincerely,

G. Vos


[1] Cf. the previous letter of Jan. 30, 1893, n. 1.

[2] Herman Bavinck's "The Future of Calvinism" (translated by Geerhardus Vos) in the Presbyterian and Reformed Review 5 (1894): 1-24. For correspondence related to this article, see Vos to Bavinck: July 3, 1893, LGV, 174-76; Oct 20, 1893, ibid., 178-80; Nov. 21, 1893, ibid., 180-81; Feb. 1, 1894, ibid., 182-83.

[3] Warfield's, "The Real Problem of Inspiration." Presbyterian and Reformed Review 4 (1893): 177-221; reprinted in B. B. Warfield, Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (1967) 169-226.

[4] Cf. the letter to Warfield in this issue dated Jan. 6, 1893 and the bibliography cited there in n. 8.

[5] The word "painful" here is telling and must be construed literally and metaphorically. Vos's "frail" health suffered as a result of the attacks upon his alleged supralapsarianism by L. J. Hulst, et al. A man with Vos's physical constitution would be devastated by such carping nonsense. Indeed, his whole soul as well as body would be sickened by such cheap shots and political grandstanding. If the suggestion is correct that Vos suffered from IBS ("Irritable Bowel Syndrome", LGV, 23), then emotional sensitivity would explain his frequent references to fatigue, weakness and the need for extended rest. Roaring Branch would be a tonic for his health, when those days came (1906, LGV, 45). Metaphorically, the issue was his filiopiety (and his father's exploitation of it) and the pitiful performance of the students in Grand Rapids. Cf. LGV, 28-36.

[6] Apparently, on April 15, 1893 (see the next letter to Warfield of that date). For more context, compare LGV, 33.

48 Spring Street
Grand Rapids
April 15 [18]93

Dear Prof. Warfield,

I found your letter on my table when returning home in the earlier part of this week. The delay in announcing my decision related of course to Grand Rapids, and did not mean that my own mind was wavering. I have just notified Dr. Bates of my acceptance and given him liberty to announce the same.[1]

You will find enclosed a list with the names and addresses of 7 students who would like to avail themselves of the terms on which you kindly offered them the Review. All of them expressed the desire to have the subscription begin with the January number of the current year, i.e., to receive back-numbers for January and April. Is this possible?

I shall translate Dr. Bavinck's paper as soon as my work permits, and in condensing shall act according to your instructions.[2]

I enclose [a] draught on New-York for $10.50.[3]

Yours very truly,

G. Vos


[1] Vos became the first Professor of Biblical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary in September 1893.

[2] Herman Bavinck, "The Future of Calvinism." Presbyterian and Reformed Review 5 (1894): 1-24.

[3] Evidently payment for the 7 subscriptions mentioned above.

Monday morning
April 16, 1893

Dear Prof. Warfield,

In sending my letter of Saturday, I was careless enough to forget all about the draught referred to.[1] I now send [a] money-order for the same amount. Please excuse the mistake. I shall keep in mind what you wrote about associating one of my colleagues here as editor of the Review.[2] With greetings to all the brethren.

Yours sincerely,

G. Vos


[1] Referring to the previous letter of April 15, 1893 to Warfield.

[2] Warfield appears to have been seeking a broader editorial representation for the Presbyterian and Reformed Review.

Grand Rapids
July 1, 1893

My Dear Prof. Warfield,

Your note, transmitting the letter of your brother,[1] came as a surprise.[2] Of course I had not expected any such thing, and feel hardly competent as yet to bear the distinction. You may feel assured, however, that I shall try not in any way to discredit it, nor the institution that has conferred it.

To become acquainted with your brother will be a great privilege. I have written him in acknowledgement of the receipt of his communication.

Today I finished the translation of Dr. Bavinck's paper.[3] You will see that it is not entirely free from repeating certain statements of both the Dr.'s own preceding article,[4] and of Dr. K[uyper]'s on "Calvinism and Revision."[5] But, the subject being given, this could perhaps hardly be avoided. If you think it better to omit certain parts also in order to reduce the article to its more natural length, you are at liberty to do so. Dr. B. has given me permission to condense and to make slight changes, and I can delegate this power to you, I suppose.

Our school has just closed.[6] The last weeks were very exhausting, so that I long for a rest. My intention is to spend some weeks in a cool place on the shore of Lake Michigan.[7] When coming to Princeton, I hope to be refreshed both in body and mind.[8]

Our graduating class consisted of four. To take my place, an uncle of mine (recently arrived from the old country on a call from one of the churches here) was elected provisionally for one year. I do not know whether he will accept.[9] As it is, the school is but poorly equipped; there is hardly any library to speak of, and there are no funds to buy books either.

Dr. Kuyper is now printing his Encyclopaedia.[10] Looking forward to a new field of labor, I could not undertake the translation. Dr. Huizenga[11] of New Platz, N. Y. will try to do the work. I am afraid it will prove a difficult and laborious task.

Prof. Steffens has gone to the Netherlands as a delegate of the Reformed Church to the Synod of the Reformed Churches there.[12]

My brother will come East with me next fall. He has accepted an Associate-Professorship in the Germanic Department of the Johns Hopkins University.[13]

I hope you are enjoying the best of health, and receiving the full benefit of your vacation. Can I have the proof-sheets when the article is being printed?

Yours sincerely,

G. Vos


[1] Ethelbert D. Warfield (1861-1936), President of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania from 1891 to 1914.

[2] Vos was awarded the D.D. degree by Lafayette in 1893 (cf. LGV, 64). The college had been established by noted Presbyterian preacher and educator, George Junkin, in 1832. It still retained its Presbyterian identity when Warfield became President.

[3] Herman Bavinck, "The Future of Calvinism." Presbyterian and Reformed Review 5 (1894): 1-24.

[4] "Recent Dogmatic Thought in the Netherlands." Presbyterian and Reformed Review 3 (1892): 209-28.

[5] "Calvinism and Confessional Revision." Presbyterian and Reformed Review 2 (1891): 369-99.

[6] The Theologische School (now Calvin Theological Seminary) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[7] Likely Ottawa Beach near Graafschap, Michigan—a resort community frequented by Vos, his wife (Catherine) and Vos's parents (cf. LGV, 194-95, n. 1).

[8] Vos arrived in Princeton by the end of September 1893; cf. LGV, 33 and his letters of July 3, 1893 (ibid., 174-77, esp. 175) and Oct. 20, 1893 (ibid., 178-80, esp. 178).

[9] "Uncle" Beuker (Hendricus) (1834-1900) had arrived in 1893 to pastor the Third Christian Reformed Church (Allen Avenue) in Muskegon, Michigan. He did not, in fact, accept the call to the seminary, choosing to pastor the Muskegon church for about a year. However, in 1894, he did accept the appointment to be Vos's replacement at the Theologische School and served in the chair of Systematic Theology until his death in 1900. Vos's father, Jan Hendrik Vos, pastor of the Spring Street CRC of Grand Rapids from 1881 to 1900, filled the one-year interim (1893-94) at the seminary—father replacing son! Cf. LGV, 14-18, 175-77.

[10] Kuyper published Encyclopaedie der heilige godgeleerdheid in 1894. The English translation appeared in 1898 as Principles of Sacred Theology. The translator was John Hendrik de Vries (1859-1920); cf. LGV, 172-73.

[11] Abel Henry Huizenga (1859-1905) was pastor of the Reformed Church in America congregation of New Platz, New York from 1886 to 1894. It seems likely that his elevation to professor at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois from 1894 to 1896 may have removed him as well from being named the translator of Kuyper's work; cf. LGV, 177-78.

[12] Cf. Vos's comments on this matter in his letter to Herman Bavinck of July 3, 1893 (LGV, 174-77, esp. 175).

[13] Bert John Vos (1867-1945) was Professor of German Languages and Literature at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland from 1893 to 1908; cf. LGV, 14, 116, 174, 177, 190.

48 Spring Street
Grand Rapids, Mich.
June 4, [18]94

Dear Dr. Warfield,

I return to you the proof of my address.[1] According to your request, I have read the whole material,[2] charge[3] and titles included. All my suggestions are in pencil, and you are, of course free, to reject them or modify them as seems best to you. In the address itself, I found very little to correct after your revision. Please see whether in the sentence marked on sheet 6 the singular of the verb and the plural of the noun can go together. I do not know what to substitute for the word "paste" on sheet 17.[4] How would it do to read: "the Deuteronomic and Levitical redaction to which they have been subjected in and after the exile"? If this approves itself to you, please make the change, or, if necessary, any other change you think best.

I do not believe it will be necessary to send me a second proof, unless you are too busy to look the sheets over yourself, when they are returned by the printer. If the delay is no objection and your time is occupied by more important things, do not fail to have it sent to me. I am ever so much obliged to you for your kind service in this matter.

I hope you spent a pleasant time in Kentucky[5] and found Mrs. Warfield[6] no worse on your return.

With kindest greetings,

Yours sincerely,

G. Vos


[1] Vos's Inaugural address as Charles T. Haley Professor of Biblical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary: "The Idea of Biblical Theology as a Science and as a Theological Discipline." It was delivered May 8, 1894, though Vos had been teaching at Princeton since September 1893. The address is reprinted in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation (1980) 3-24; cf. LGV, 36-41.

[2] A pamphlet version published by Anson D. F. Randolph of New York in 1894 entitled Inauguration of the Rev. Geerhardus Vos, Ph.D., D.D., as Professor of Biblical Theology. The pamphlet includes a "Prefatory Note" (p. iii) listing the program for the occasion. Vos's address covers pp. 1-40.

[3] Delivered by Rev. Abraham Gosman (1819-1899), President of the Board of Directors (pp. vii-xv). Gosman was pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, New Jersey from 1851-1895 and had been a member of the Board of Trustees/Board of Directors of the seminary since 1866.

[4] Warfield apparently decided to retain the word "paste"; cf. Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, p. 22.

[5] Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was born Nov. 5, 1851 near Lexington, Kentucky. He died in 1921. One report had him collapsing in the front yard of the Vos home while on a walk; he was then carried to his own home where he expired.

[6] Annie Pierce Kinkead Warfield (1852-1915) married Dr. Warfield in August 1876. She was an invalid all their married life, after being struck by lightning (according to some accounts) or traumatized by a terrifying thunderstorm (according to others) in the Harz Mountains of Germany during their honeymoon trip. Warfield was devoted to her, caring for her daily until her death (but with brief intermissions, as this letter attests).

Grand Rapids
June 29, 1894

Dear Dr. Warfield,

I received fifty copies of my inaugural address yesterday.[1] Many thanks to you for the reading of the second proof and for seeing the whole thing through. I am very much pleased with the neat appearance of the little book.

Everybody has been very busy here of late. The Synod of the Holl. Chr. Ref. Church has been in Session for two full weeks. Rev. Beuker (an uncle of mine who came from Holland a year ago) was elected Professor of Theology[2] and two instructors were appointed in the Literary Department.

In regard to a reunion with the Refd. Church,[3] the signs do not appear any more favorable than before. There seems to be more inclination to join hands with the United Presbyterians[4] on a cooperative basis. I am afraid that this would rather retard than promote the union of the two Holland Churches.

Speaking of union, I may just as well add that my own personal union to which I had been looking forward will in all probability be postponed till next Spring.[5] After mature deliberation, we concluded that it would be better not to make any experiment with boarding or taking another house. We do not belong any more to that happy class of very young people who sweep aside all difficulties in the enthusiasm of their love. I hope that in the future you will give us some credit for this exhibition of patience and mature wisdom.

My brother was married the day before yesterday.[6]

I have been reading much, but writing little. Still I hope to come to Princeton with more lectures prepared than last year.

With kindest regards to Mrs. Warfield, I am

Sincerely yours,

G. Vos

P.S. I was very glad to have an opportunity for disposing of a copy of "De Verbondsleer".[7] I sent one to Prof. Marais[8] according to your request.



[1] See the previous letter of June 4, 1894, esp. n. 1.

[2] Hendricus Beuker; cf. the letter of July 1, 1893, n. 9.

[3] Reformed Church in America (RCA).

[4] United Presbyterian Church of North America (1858-1958).

[5] For the background of Vos's romance with Catherine Frances Smith of Grand Rapids, Michigan, see LGV, 41-43. In fact, the couple did decide to wed Sept. 7, 1894. Cf. also the following letter of Aug. 27, 1894.

[6] Bert John Vos married René Moelker in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 27, 1894.

[7] De verbondsleer in de Gereformeerde theologie (1891); cf. LGV, 28, 90.

[8] Perhaps, Professor J. I. Marais (1848-1919), Head of the Theology Faculty at Victoria College in Stellenbosch, South Africa. There is a letter from "J. Marais" to B. B. Warfield dated Mar. 27, 1894 in the Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield Manuscript Collection at Princeton Theological Seminary (Box 32:39).

Grand Rapids, Mich.
August 27, 1894

Dear Dr. Warfield,

Last Saturday, I received the enclosed letter. I have been so liberal with the fifty copies sent me that there are not enough left to comply with the request out of my own supply.[1] I do not know whether the publishers have any additional copies, whether they can sell them to Mr. Lee, etc. As you arranged all about the printing, I thought the shortest way to answer the letter would be to refer it to you. Would you be so kind as to have the desired number of copies forwarded to Mr. Lee, if such a thing is possible? I should be much obliged to you.

I am looking forward to my return to Princeton. Fortunately, I can expect to bring my bride with me.[2] We have changed our mind once more. I am sure this will be the last time. The date of the wedding is to be September 7. Our intention is to go East immediately and to spend what remains of the vacation somewhere on the seashore not too far from Princeton.[3]

The chances of securing a house at this late hour will be small, I am afraid. If we can not find one, we shall try to make arrangements with Mrs. Aiken[4] for staying there, which would be by far the most pleasant thing next to house keeping.

I have been summering on the shores of Lake Michigan[5] and succeeded in doing some work for my N.T. course. My health should have profited more by my vacation, if the hotel fare had better agreed with me.[6] I am afraid if I had to stay two months longer, I should become a confirmed dyspeptic. The summer at my parents' home has been a very busy one, so that my desire to do some work compelled me to seek seclusion elsewhere. I have now, however, returned to Grand Rapids, where I shall stay till the day of my marriage.

I hope you are enjoying the best of health, and have not withheld from yourself the "wee bit of vacation" of which you wrote.

Please remember me to Mrs. Warfield who, I hope, is much better.

Hoping to see you soon,

Yours sincerely,

G. Vos


[1] Referring to his inaugural address in pamphlet form; cf. the previous letters of June 4 and June 29, 1894.

[2] Catherine Frances Smith (1865-1937).

[3] See the previous letter of June 29, 1894, n. 5 and LGV, 41-43.

[4] Mrs. Charles A. Aiken, widow of Charles Augustus Aiken (1827-1892), former Professor of Christian Ethics and Apologetics at Princeton from 1871 to 1892. Vos refers to this housing arrangement in his letter to Herman Bavinck dated Dec. 22, 1894 (LGV, 187).

[5] Ottawa Beach; cf. the letter of July 1, 1893, n. 7 and LGV, 195, n. 1.

[6] Additional comments about his "health"; cf. the letter of Mar. 31, 1893, n. 5 and the references there.


Sept. 23, 1898


Dear Brethren:

The Faculty of the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Princeton have instructed me, as their Corresponding Secretary,[2] to convey to you their thanks for your kind courtesy in inviting them to attend the installation of the Rev. Dr. John H. Gillespie[3] as Professor of N. T. Greek and Exegesis in your Seminary. They have delegated Professors George T. Purves,[4] John DeWitt[5] and Chalmers Martin[6] to represent them on this interesting occasion.

With best wishes for the exercises of the day and the continued welfare of our sister institution, I remain,

Yours fraternally,



[1] The text of this letter is printed in Public Services at the Inauguration of the Rev. John H. Gillespie, D.D. as Thomas DeWitt Professor of Hellenistic Greek and New Testament Exegesis in the Theological Seminary of the Reformed (Dutch) Church in America at New Brunswick, N.J. Tuesday, September Twenty-Seventh [1898] (1899) 57-58. Benji Swinburnson first directed my attention to this document.

[2] Here, for the first time, we learn that Vos held this title.

[3] John H. Gillespie (1858-1924), Professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis at New Brunswick from 1898 to 1911.

[4] George Tybout Purves (1852-1901), Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Princeton from 1892 to 1900.

[5] John De Witt (1842-1923), Professor of Church History at Princeton from 1892 to 1912.

[6] Chalmers Martin (1859-1934), Instructor in Old Testament at Princeton from 1892 to 1900.

My dear Prof. Berkhof,[1]

I write to ascertain one or two things about the delivery of your Stone lectures here. Dr. Warfield, as chairman of the Committee, used to keep a memorandum of the lecturers invited for the successive years, and of the number of lectures agreed upon. He further corresponded with the prospective lecturers as to the dates, and for one cause or another, there was considerable shifting around, a later one being sometimes substituted for an earlier, or vice versa. The Committee wholly depended on him for these matters. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find his memorandum among the papers he left.[2] There is, however, a record of appointments approved in the Minutes of the Faculty. My recollection is that you were invited for a course of three lectures, and that it was agreed upon between Dr. Warfield and yourself, that you were to deliver these next session, i.e., either in the fall of 1921 or in the earlier part of 1922. The Faculty Minutes bear this out as to the date, but say nothing about the number of lectures. In order to prevent confusion, I should like to have a word from yourself as to how the arrangement stands. After receiving this, we can proceed to straighten subsequent matters out. The lecturer for the six lectures course next session is Dr. Boyd,[3] whom you will remember as a lecturer at the seminary. He has an appointment with the American Bible Society as their special executive in the Near East, especially Egypt, and expects to leave for those parts next autumn. Consequently, his lectures have been [?set] for October, which is very early in the session, of course. It would not be advisable to have two courses in rapid succession, but apart from this, his early discharge of the task will leave you more time to choose from.

It will be a pleasure to have you come here, and I trust everything in the arrangements will be smooth and to your entire satisfaction.

With kindest regards,
Sincerely yours,
Geerhardus Vos

52 Mercer St
Princeton, N. J.
May 11, 1921


[1] Louis Berkhof (1873-1957) taught at the Theological School of the Christian Reformed Church (now Calvin Theological Seminary) in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 1906 to 1944. When he delivered the Stone Lectures in the Spring of 1922, he was listed as Professor of New Testament Exegetical Theology, a chair he held until 1926 when he became Professor of Systematic Theology. He also was appointed President of the Seminary in 1931. His Stone Lectures were entitled "The Kingdom of God in Modern Thought and Life". They were published posthumously in 1951 under the title The Kingdom of God: The Development of the Idea of the Kingdom, especially since the 18th Century.

[2] Warfield died Feb. 17, 1921.

[3] James Oscar Boyd (1874-1947) delivered the Stone Lectures on Oct. 10-14, 1921. His topic was "The House of David." At the time, Boyd was pastor of the Church of the Redeemer (PCUSA) in Paterson, New Jersey. At Princeton Theological Seminary, he had served as an Instructor in Old Testament (1900-1907) and Assistant Professor of Oriental and Old Testament Literature (1907-1915). He would serve as Secretary of the Arabic-Levant Agency of the American Bible Society (1921-1929), then Secretary to the Levant Agency of the ABS (1926-1944).