“The work of Arnold van Ruler is not nearly as well known in the English speaking world as it deserves to be,” writes translator Garth Hodnett. It’s clear upon reading I Believe that this needs to be rectified. Anyone interested in thought-provoking Christian theology should keep a highlighter ready while reading Hodnett’s translation of van Ruler’s fascinating text.
This book, about the 12 articles of faith contained in the Apostle’s Creed, offers a wealth of philosophical ideas and interesting explanations of scripture, Jesus and the human condition. Readers will want to return to certain passages over and over again. Here’s a favorite: “Everyone has a heart. In many it has become desensitized. Others ignore it. But occasionally the great and deep things in it erupt like a volcano.”
I Believe, written in the 1960’s and published now for what seems to be the first time in English, takes readers on a line-by-line exegesis of the creed, pausing on certain words that appear insignificant. For example, a whole chapter is dedicated to the word “in” in the first line: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” For van Ruler, “in” signifies entering into a high and intimate relationship with the divine, one that “embraces the whole idea of eternal life. It contains the idea that I do not let go and give up on life but rather affirm myself unto all eternity.” Other topics: the Holy Spirit, heaven, hell, the Virgin Mary and the communion of saints.
Hodnett’s translation is clearly a labor of love. Although the book could use a light copyedit to correct occasional punctuation issues and awkward phrasing, I Believe is an example of an aspect of self-publishing that gets little attention: it’s use as a vehicle to introduce important foreign authors through translation. Hodnett has done van Ruler, and those interested in Christian thought, a great service. This book is a gem.
Also available as an ebook.