The "Problem" with Absolute Predestination is that while it is by far Zanchi's most well known work, it was not technically written by him. It is, in fact, a translation and revised abridgement of a section of Zanchi's corpus completed by Augustus Toplady in the eighteenth century, which spawned a heated epistolary controversy with John Wesley.In a 2007 interview with Scott Clark on The Heidelcast, O'Banion also said:
It is in some ways unfortunate that Absolute Predestination is the work most often associate with the name of Jerome Zanchi and the most easily accessible work in English translation. This is the case primarily because it gives the impression that predestination was somehow the central dogma which governed Zanchi's theology.* On the contrary, while Zanchi was certainly predestinarian in his sotereology, it could hardly be called the guiding principle of his thought.
It has been difficult to determine exactly how much of Absolute Predestination is a translation of Zanchi and how much was simply added by Toplady. Henry Atherton commented in the introduction to the 1930 edition published by Sovereign Grace Union, London, that "Toplady not only translated Zanchius' great work, but added much excellent matter thereby giving us the best translation of Zanchius and the best of Toplady." For those interested in the thought of Zanchi alone, the effects of Toplady's hybrid translation are problematic at best. The section entitled "The Fate of the Ancients" is, however, clearly drawn from the work of Justus Lipsius, not Zanchi.
Conflicting opinions exist about the precise source from which Toplady produced Absolute Predestination. Otto Gründler suggests that it was "A short early treatise submitted by Zanchi to the city council of Strasbourg in defense of his doctrine..." (The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 306). Christopher J. Burchill ("Girolamo Zanchi: Portrait of A Reformed Theologian and his Work," 199) and J. P. Donnelly ("Italian Influences on the Development of Calvinist Scholasticism," 98-99) agree with Gründler. Joseph N. Tylenda ("Girolamo Zanchi and John Calvin: A Study in Discipleship as Seen Through Their Correspondence," 101) disagrees, suggesting that Absolute Predestination "is Toplady's synopsis of Zanchi's On the Nature of God, or on the Divine Attributes, whose fifth book deals with predestination."
Patrick J. O'Banion - Dana Point, Ca
Zanchi is best known among English-speaking audiences for having written a treatise called Absolute Predestination. The problem is that he didn’t write it. It is, in fact, a translation and revised abridgment of one of Zanchi’s treatises (precisely which one is debated) that was made by Augustus Toplady in the 18th century and which spawned a heated debate with John Wesley. Absolute Predestination is, in my opinion, somewhat unbalanced. Toplady just took the bits about predestination in Zanchi and pulled them away from the warp and woof of his theology. Frankly, I think that sort of thing just helps foster the myth that Reformed theology is all about the doctrine of predestination.*Click here for O'Banion's work on "Jerome Zanchi, the Application of Theology, and the Rise of the English Practical Divinity Tradition," Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 29.2-3 (2005), 97-120.