Hidden gems in the Meeter Center


Joshua Polanski

Hekman Library currently has various antique Bibles on display.

The H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies is exhibiting 17th century Dutch Bibles from Calvin College’s Rare Book Collection. The library owns 75 of these Bibles.

From September 15 to November 12, many of the Bibles will be on display in the Meeter Center’s “Statenbijbel Exhibit.”

The Statenbijel, meaning “State’s Bible,” also known as Statenvertaling, meaning “States Translation,” was the first Bible translated from original biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek) into Dutch. In 1618, delegates to the Synod of Dordt, held in Dordrecht, Holland, requested the Statenbijel. It was first published in 1637.

As 2018 marks the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordt, the H. Henry Meeter Center exhibit will commemorate the Synod and the Bible that it produced. Karin Maag and Paul Fields, the Director and Curator of the Meeter Center, hope that students will take the opportunity to examine the historical Bibles that played a vital role in the formation and flourishing of Dutch Reformed Protestantism. Fields said, “[We] have them in the library’s rare book room and [students] can see them and use them if they wish.”

Preceding the Statenbijel, Dutch speaking Protestants did not have easy access to Dutch Bibles from original languages. The Bibles that were translated into Dutch at the time were mainly translations of translations. Additionally, the Dutch faced economic and political hardships during the 16th century, which delayed the translation of the Bible. Fields said, “Politically, they were fighting the Spanish so they didn’t have the time [to create a Dutch Bible]; they didn’t have the money. Though they did have the interest.”

The Statenbijel of 1637 not only marks the resilience of a people group, but shows the actualization of a hope – a hope that the Holy Scriptures would be available and authoritative for all Dutch-speaking people in the 17th century and onward.

The Center’s web page on the Synod of Dordt can be found on the H. Henry Meeter Center website. The exhibit will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, in the H. Henry Meeter Center, located on the 4th Floor of the Hekman Library.