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Book Reviews > Theology > An Analysis of Herman Witsius's The Economy of the Covenants

Ray VanNeste

Ray VanNeste
Director of the RC Ryan Center for Biblical Studies and Assistant Professor of Christian Studies

An Analysis of Herman Witsius's The Economy of the Covenants
D. Patrick Ramsey and Joel R. Beeke
Details: 2002, Reformation Heritage Books and Christian Focus Pub, Amazon.comISBN: 1892777223
Posted: June 15, 2004


The Economy of the Covenants is generally regarded as the magnum opus of Dutch theologian Herman Witsius and was written to promote peace among those divided on covenant theology in his day. This little volume was written to give a detailed outline of the almost 1,000 page original. In a preface to the reprint of Witsius's work,1 J. I. Packer says Witsius "has been unjustly forgotten" and he goes on to refer to Wistius as "a masterful Dutch Reformed theologian, learned, wise, mighty in the Scriptures, practical and 'experimental' (to use the Puritan label for that which furthers heart-religion)." It was indeed this combination of characteristics found in his "On the Character of a True Theologian" (recently reprinted by Reformed Academic Press) which drew me to Witsius.

In the little book here under consideration, Ramsey and Beeke have intended to provide a help to those desiring to read Witsuis's key work. In their introduction they state three ways in which their outline can be used:

A summary study guide providing a quick overview of Wistius's arguments. This can be of help since the language may seem difficult to one first attempting such study.

A group study guide.

A quick reference guide. It will enable one to quickly reference Witsius's key points of argument on a specific issue.

I think this book succeeds as a tool in each of these regards.

Additionally, there are about 20 pages of biography including an overview of The Economy of the Covenants. This is very valuable in setting this work in context and also in introducing (perhaps) a new generation to this incredible man of God. May the church be blessed with more leaders who are both convictional and charitable, learned and pious, studious and experiential.

Ray Van Neste

Union University