I recall vividly the time, at a rather informal faculty meeting, when Prof. Hoeksema and I talked a bit about the possibility of publishing a Seminary Journal. The time was about fourteen years ago, and we hesitated long before entering this new field. We wanted to publish a Journal which would be somewhat more “scientific” in character than the Standard Bearer; i.e., which would deal more, technically with matters of theology than would a paper with greater popular appeal. But our hesitancy was born out of fear that due to time and ability we would not be able to sustain the publication of such a paper; and we wondered long and loudly whether it would have any appeal at all in the ecclesiastical world.
It was with trepidation, therefore, that we ventured into this field some thirteen years, ago. We put out a very modest paper, in mimeographed form, bound with plastic binding and with soft covers. We mailed out about 75 copies, mostly to our own ministers and to various men within our Church whom we thought would be interested in receiving the paper. We did not know how long the Journal would last or how well it would be received.
But God put all our fears and doubts to shame. He has blessed this modest venture beyond our boldest imaginations and has given to the Journal a place of some importance among theological papers.
Because the Journal is distributed free of charge (the financing is borne by our Churches through Synodical subsidies for the Theological School) we never really advertised our Journal or made any effort to enlarge our subscription lists. In fact, several years after we began publishing we sent a letter to all the subscribers asking them if they wanted to continue to receive theJournal. Those who failed to respond were taken from the subscription list.
Nevertheless, our subscription list has now grown to over 500. Every month brings in new subscriptions along with letters which speak of the appreciation which people have for the Journal. A few statistics, while in themselves rather cold, nevertheless give you some idea of the work of our paper. Of the 500 subscriptions about 140 go overseas and the rest to subscribers in this land. Thirty-four different states are represented in the subscription list along with 25 foreign countries. These countries include: Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Egypt, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Scotland, England, Brazil, Mexico, San Salvadore, and Canada. The denominations represented in the subscription lists cut across every major denomination in this country and abroad. In fact, far over half of the Journalsgo to subscribers outside our own Churches.
How new names are added remains a puzzle to us. We receive letters from many new subscribers who tell us of seeing the Journal in the home of a friend, of spotting it on the shelf in some library, of hearing about it from an acquaintance, of seeing some reference to it in other ecclesiastical periodicals. God works in strange and unexpected ways-to bring the Journal into the homes of others.
As those of you who receive this paper know, the format has been radically altered a couple of years ago. The Journal is no longer mimeographed and bound with plastic but is printed professionally and I stapled. The size has been reduced from 8 1/2 x 11 to 6 x 9. This is more professional looking and makes mailing much easier.
One problem which we constantly face is the stream of requests for back issues. Only seldom are we able to supply these requests. We usually print more than are needed, but this supply is surprisingly soon exhausted. We therefore have to fall back on copying on our copy machine, but this is a costly and time-consuming process. In some cases, where the demand for back articles was especially great, we have made reprints and made them available to all who are interested.
An interesting project which we just finished was the republication of part of Turretin’s “Dogmatics.” Although Turretin’s original work was in Latin, through the- cooperation of Rev. Engelsma we obtained for our use an English translation of part of Turretin’s massive work. This English translation we reproduced and bound—some in hardcover and some in soft cover. This work is now completed and a large number of these manuscripts have already been mailed out. Aware that the demand would not be great, we printed about 150 copies of this work; but to our surprise, the demand has been greater than we anticipated. Although we have not advertised at all yet, already over half of them are gone. And we are beginning to wonder whether we will have sufficient for all who desire a copy.
If any of our present readers would like to have this work, please send in your order. We would prefer that you send your money with the order. It saves bookwork. The cost is our cost; we are making nothing on the project. The soft-bound books are selling for $12.95 and the hardcover books for $24.95. Get your order in soon or it will be too late.
We seek from all our readers their continued prayers for our Seminary and, more particularly, for the work of the Journal. The work is, finally, God’s work, and without His blessing it can never be of profit.