Countdown to Calvin: One Week to Go!

Our Dead Theologians Society small group is now just a week away from a fifty week excursion through Calvin’s Institutes, beginning January 5th.

The collective decision to take up this next selection is an event of no small significance for our reading group:

  • It is the 20th selection since the group was formed on March 30, 2009.
  • It is only the second non-Puritan work (the first was our previous read, Octavius Winslow’s Personal Declension & Revival of Religion in the Soul), and hence the earliest selection.
  • The charter members of the group have read a total of 4461 pages, an average of 2.2 pages per day, excluding breaks. Reading the Institutes in 2015 will require that pace to double to 4.4 pages per day for 344 days (94% of the year).
  • The highest number of books finished in a year so far is four, both in 2013 and 2014, and the Institutes will tie that number, if we consider it as four books in one.
  • The highest number of pages assigned for completion in a year was 893 in 2011. Reading the Institutes in 2015 in the McNeill-Battles 2 volume edition will exceed that record by 69%, with 1512 pages to cover.

Following the reading schedule developed by Dr. James C. Goodloe IV, we will spend roughly a third (35%) of our time in books 1 and 2, a third (31%) in book 3, and a third (34%) in book 4 as follows:

Book Start Date End Date # Days % Time Start Page End Page # Pages % Pages
1 1/5 2/26 52 15.1% 3 237 235 15.5%
2 2/27 5/6 68 19.8% 241 534 294 19.4%
3 5/7 8/25 110 32.0% 537 1008 472 31.2%
4 8/26 12/18 114 33.1% 1011 1521 511 33.8%
344 100.0% 1512 100.0%
Daily Avg: 4.4

Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren included the Institutes in their recommended reading list as one of those books that is typically over people’s heads (How to Read a Book, Appendix A: A Recommended Reading List). The Institutes of the Christian Religion is considered to be among the top 1% of books in the Western tradition that will significantly reward the reader for the efforts made to read them. And lest anyone become puffed up with the notion of this undertaking, please realize that some people make it a habit to read the Institutes every year, in addition to their annual reading through the Bible.

So rest now, but prepare to TAKE UP AND READ on January 5th!

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