The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (1) Introduction

The Synod of Dordt met in 180 sessions from Tuesday, November 13, 1618 to Wednesday May 29, 1619. Four hundred years later, the dates and days correspond: November 13, 2018 falls on a Tuesday.

To commemorate the Synod’s 400th anniversary, I plan to write a weekly blog summarizing what the synod did at each session. In this blog I am not concerned with why the Synod decided what it did, or with a record of the discussion leading to the decision. I aim simply to state what the Synod accomplished at each session.

I will refer to sources only rarely, and then with abbreviated references. For full disclosure, here are the sources I am using.

Several sources are primary, that is, they contain the Synod’s original documents. My chief source is the Dutch translation of the Acts of the Synod as found in Acta of Handelingen der Nationale Synod te Dordrecht, (Kampen: J. H. Bos, n.d.). Another is the Latin edition of the Acts as published in Donald Sinnema, Christian Moser and Herman J. Selderhuis, eds., Acta et Documenta Synodi Nationalis Dordrechtanae (1618-1619), vol. I: Acta of the Synod of Dordt (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015). I will refer to this source only when I find the Dutch problematic.

The Acts of the Synod from May 13-29, 1619 (sessions 155-180) have already been translated by Richard DeRidder, published in syllabus Translation of Ecclesiastical Manual Including the Decisions of the Netherlands Synods . . . (Grand Rapids: Calvin Theological Seminary, 1982), 176-203.

Secondary sources are books and writings about the Synod. One such source is Gerard Brandt, The History of the Reformation and Other Ecclesiastical Transactions In And About the Low Countries, (London: T. Wood, 1722), 3:1-331. Brandt’s analysis of the Synod’s decisions reflect his sympathy to the Arminian cause. However, his record of Synod’s actions is reliable. Another secondary source is Anthony Milton, ed, The British Delegation and the Synod of Dort (1618-1619) (Suffolk, England: The Boydell Press), 2005. Most of the documents in this book are not helpful for my purpose; only a few are.

One book that I probably will not use as a source for this blog, but which is an interesting reference work, is the collection of essays edited by Aza Goudriaan and Fred van Lieburg, entitled Revisiting the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), (Leiden: Brill), 2011. I recommend it–or anything written by Donald Sinnema or Fred van Lieburg–to anyone who wishes to study the Synod of Dordt in more detail.

Douglas Kuiper, Professor of Church History and New Testament Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches