David Joris, Pietist Saint: The Appeal to Joris in the Writings of Christian Hoburg, Gottfried Arnold and Johann Wilhelm Petersen

Article excerpt

Abstract: A growing field of scholarship has been probing the connections between late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century German Pietism and the sixteenth-century Reformation radicals. David Joris (1501-1556), a prolific sixteenth-century Anabaptist figure and reputed "arch-heretic," was highly esteemed by German Pietist leaders, including Christian Hoburg, Gottfried Arnold and Johann Wilhelm Petersen. In his influential Unparteiische Kitchen- und Ketzer-Historie (1700) Arnold made Joris the centerpiece of his story, and he observed that many in the Low Country still valued Joris's writings. He and others found in Joris and his writings a significant reference point and inspiration in their effort to promote a Lutheran form of spiritualist religion.


The present study has a twofold purpose: to document the significant influence of David Joris among radical German Pietists, and to account for this appeal. This study contributes to a small but growing historiography that links the Radical Reformation with later radical German Pietism. Horst Weigelt has done important work in demonstrating connections between the Schwenkfelders and later German Pietist groups, and Marcus Meyer between Anabaptists and the Pietists. (1) In the first volume of Geschichte des Pietismus, Martin Brecht pointed to the influence of sixteenth-century German Spiritualists and Jakob Bohme among leading Pietists. (2) Brecht documented the widespread popularity of works by Schwenckfeld, Valentin Weigel and Johann Arndt and their importance for the "prehistory" of Pietism. Pietists read these writers with appreciation for their stress upon inward piety. (3)

Ignored in these discussions, however, is another popular figure among the Pietists, David Joris (ca.1501-1556). After the fall of Munster in 1535, the glass painter from Delft became the most important Anabaptist leader in the Netherlands, especially through the early 1540s, successfully competing for disciples with Menno Simons. Joris, claims Gary Waite, "was one of the most infamous men in the Low Countries, hounded by the imperial authorities and adored by perhaps thousands of supporters who willingly risked their lives and shared their resources to keep their beloved leader alive." (4) A visionary, a mystic, a prophet who proclaimed himself the "third David," Joris was also a prolific and talented author, producing books, pamphlets, hymns and innumerable letters. His major work was the Wonder Book of 1542. In all over 240 published works have survived, including a volume of songs as well as a large number of manuscript items and several artistic representations of his ideas. (5) According to the Dutch historian Mirjam G.K. van Veen, "the willingness of printers to publish Joris's works long after his death ... illustrates his abiding influence in the Low Countries" and beyond. There is evidence that many of his writings continued to circulate in manuscript. (6)

In 1538 Holland courts put a price on Joris's head. Joris fled the northern Netherlands, living in Antwerp from 1539 to 1544. (7) In spring 1544, Joris and his family arrived in Basel where he presented himself to the city council as a merchant and evangelical refugee by the name of Johann van Brugge and soon received Basel citizenship. Joris lived in Basel as a Nicodemite, internalizing or "Spiritualizing the Crusade," and forsaking sectarian Anabaptism. (8) A couple of years after his death in 1556, Joris's true identity was discovered when the jurist Bonifacius Amerbach prompted the city council to investigate reports that Johann van Brugge was actually Joris, the notorious Dutch heretic. (9) Upon confirming this identity, the council exhumed Joris's body and burned his corpse and writings. (10) In 1559 the University of Basel published a critical judgment of Joris, The Life and Teaching of the Dutch Heretic David Joris. (11) The hostility of Joris's contemporaries was perpetuated by later posterity; confessional histories portrayed Joris as an "arch-heretic," ecstatic visionary and bigamist. (12) It is significant that despite this official disdain, later Lutherans such as Christian Hoburg, Gottfried Arnold and Johann Wilhelm Petersen should cite Joris and his works so frequently and approvingly.

The Unschuldige Nachrichten, an early German periodical that was devoted to reviews of religious literature, offers insight into the popularity of Joris and his writings in the age of Pietism. (13) The editor, Valentin Ernest Loscher, was an orthodox Lutheran pastor and superintendent in Juterborg. He explained the intended audience of the new periodical:

   Our esteemed reader doubtless remembers that for the past year a
   monthly publication has been appearing in book stores under the
   title Old and New From the Treasure of Theological Learning.... We
   wish our valued readers to see the Theologische Nachrichten not as
   a so-called learned journal ... but as an exercise in good thinking
   concerning such matters as may best contribute to the church at the
   present time. (14)

Each issue consisted of two parts: the first part offered a selection of passages from older works and Christian classics still worthy of Christian consideration; the second part consisted of reviews of books that had recently come on the market. These works were carefully scrutinized with a view to their orthodoxy by identifying any "dangerous teachings" from the perspective of the Lutheran faith. (15)

The Unschuldige Nachrichten identified several publications as "dangerous" because they approved of the teachings of David Joris. Christian Hoburg's Unbekanter Christus (1669) praised Joris as "a complete man of God." In his Unparteiische Kirchen und Ketzerhistorie (1699-1700) the church historian Gottfried Arnold provided a history and defense of Joris as well as a generous selection of Joris's writings. Johann Wilhelm Petersen's Das Geheimnuss der Widerbringung aller Dinge (1700) presented David Joris "as a beloved saint" before God, providing inspiration for the present study's title. (16) We shall examine each of these writings in detail in order to understand the nature of Joris's appeal and to discover how Joris's life and thought advanced the Pietist cause.

This study argues that Joris served these Lutheran Pietists as a Spiritualist saint, model and inspirational point of reference. In a time when Europe was exhausted by the Thirty Years War and religious strife, Joris modeled an inward religion of the heart that minimized differences of sacrament and confession. Pietists were attracted by the way in which Joris undermined the learning of orthodox theologians in favor of a church taught directly by God's Spirit. It is not surprising, therefore, that Joris should figure so prominently in the Pietist effort to rethink and retell their communal story by appeal to the Christian past. Joris served as an early witness to the Pietist vision, one that reoriented Christianity away from ceremony and sacrament to inward experience.


Joris and Christian Hoburg's Unbekanter Christus (1669) (17)

As a young man Christian Hoburg (1607-1675) read the works of Caspar Schwenckfeld and Johann Arndt with growing interest. (18) Hoburg advocated a lay Christianity marked by new birth by the Spirit and mystical renewal, and gained a reputation as a sharp critic of the Lutheran state church and its theology. He served as assistant school rector and Lutheran pastor in Ulzen, and was pastor in Bornum bei Konigslutter from 1645-1648. He was dismissed from both positions. Hoburg then spent twenty years in Holland serving in Reformed and Mennonite churches. In 1655 he was appointed preacher in Latham/ Bahr near Amheim under the proviso that he avoid all religious controversies. After fifteen years in Latham, Hoburg was finally removed from this position for his publication a year earlier of Der Unbekandte Christus, in which he defended the teachings of Joris. (19) The work became Hoburg's best known writing, going through nineteen printings. Later German Pietists highly valued Hoburg's works.

As the title indicates, Der Unbekandte Christus was not a warm devotional book: "The Unknown Christ. A thorough demonstration that the so-called Christianity of today in its various sects does not truly know Christ." Hoburg's aim was to awaken the complacent, shame the pharisaical and thoroughly examine the so-called Christians of his day. (20) He intended the book to act as a mirror by which readers could examine themselves to see if they knew Christ in spirit and faith or in the flesh and in hypocrisy. (21) Thirty-three of the forty-two chapters consisted of identifying those who did not truly know Christ. (22)

Hoburg criticized those "so-called Christians" who persecuted others for sake of religious conscience. "As soon as one begins [to describe] those who use violence and force in religious matters, one thinks not of a lamb but a wolf; the true Christ, with his loving spirit, doctrine, life and being, has disappeared." (23) Figures such as Constantine who turned to weapons of war in defense of Christ, the Popes who persecuted Huss and Savonarola and "a thousand others," Luther who so bitterly opposed Carlstadt and Schwenckfeld, and Protestant princes who made political alliances and unions in order to defend evangelical religion--these all demonstrated their ignorance of Christ. (24) Hoburg lamented the fate of David Joris and his posthumous burning by the learned leaders of Basel. Hoburg concluded his opening summary by observing that displays of hatred and enmity towards the godly in the sixteenth century originated in ignorance of Christ. He noted that in his own century such persecutions have "not only continued but have increased, especially among the so-called Lutherans." Hoburg pointed to the opposition to Valentin Weigel, Johann Arndt, Jacob Bohme, Jean de Labadie, Johann Georg Gichtel, Friedrich Breckling and many others who suffered under Lutheran hegemony, including the animosity shown towards himself by the preachers in Hamburg, Lubeck and Luneburg. (25)

Opponents of the truth did not know the true Christ with his spirit of love, patience and tenderness towards his neighbor. "The true Christ as the head among his members is gentle," wrote Hoburg, "loving to his enemies, even bearing with Judas, forbids uprooting the weeds before the proper time, ... prays for his enemies, is, in a word, a lamb." "All who do not have or demonstrate this spirit, nature, manner and mind, do not know him." (26)

Hoburg observed that there are two ways of knowing Christ, by outward knowledge and by inward knowledge. Outward knowledge is learned in the schools of men; inward knowledge is gained in the school of the Holy Spirit.

   The students who seek knowledge according to the flesh must be very
   reasonable and complete a course of study in philosophy.... A
   thousand of those taught by the letter (Schrifftgelehrten) who have
   learned the knowledge of Christ according to the flesh in the
   schools of men are unprepared to grasp the knowledge of Christ
   according to the spirit. Therefore it came about that Christ chose
   no school-taught ones for his disciples.... So today, among these
   school-taught scholars who seek the knowledge of Christ according
   to the flesh, there is not to be found one among a thousand who has
   the true knowledge of Christ according to the spirit. (27)

These two different kinds of schools appealed to two different kinds of students.

Among the small minority who did know Christ in humility was David Joris. In the opening summary to Der Unbekante Christus, Hoburg expressed his admiration for Joris because of his "golden divine writings" and his "true living knowledge of Christ."

   Such have the learned ones in Basel done to David Joris, who was
   taught of God, whose writings they could not understand because
   they seized them with such bitter envy and hatred; therefore they
   burned them.... They had such Cain-like hatred for this man of God,
   who bore witness so profoundly in his spiritual writings to the
   kingdom of Jesus Christ amidst the thick darkness of the papacy and
   so warmly testified to it, that they could not let his bones rest
   in the grave. All this comes of ignorance of Christ.... For as this
   man testified so profoundly to the true, living knowledge of
   Christ, so it can only be received by those who read and understand
   his golden, divine writings [gottliche Schrifften] with an
   impartial mind. (28)

In contrast to the Weltgelehrte and the Ehrgeitzige (worldly wise and ambitious ones), including eiders, school masters, princes, nobility and jurists, Joris was Gotts gelehrter (taught by God).

In the second to the last chapter, on the remedy for spiritual blindness and ignorance, Hoburg returned to Joris. Hoburg reminded his readers that they had not far to go to discover this living knowledge of Christ; they could find it in the incomparable writings of one of their own countryman in the previous century, the "Theosophus Mysticus" David Joris. "This man, indeed this teacher of Holland, instructs concerning the living knowledge of Christ in such a beautiful fashion that I have never in all my life seen the like." (29) In sum, concluded Hoburg:

   Joris does not want a Christ without spirit, being, life, light, or
   power as the blind sects have accepted ... by which they have no
   more than letters, words, and histories and learning in their minds
   and in their mouths and ears. But Joris wants to have a Christ of
   power (Kraft-Christum), a real Christ, a heart-Christ, a living
   Christ, a Christ not just in our mouth and ears but living in our
   hearts.... This is the summa of Joris' doctrine of Christ, which is
   truly according to Scripture. (30)

The fact that the learned slandered and marginalized Joris was certain evidence that Joris's teaching was not of the world, but of God. (31) Hoburg praised Joris in the highest terms. (32) Joris was the "mystical Theosophist," the "teacher of Holland," who rightly defined the true Christian as one who possessed the Spirit and knew Christ within in all his power. (33)

Hoburg illustrates a phenomenon pointed to by Andrew Fix and recently by Miriam van Veen. In a time of religious strife, more and more people in the Netherlands distanced themselves from the churches and their clergy, "caring little or nothing for ... the ministry and public confession of religion ... and unconcerned about learning and confessing this or that." They pled for tolerance, and opposed persecution of heretics. This "libertine" attitude carried on well into the seventeenth century. (34)

Joris and Gottfried Arnold's Unparteiische Kirchen und Ketzer Historie, Parts II and IV (Frankfurt, 1700)

It was probably Christian Hoburg who first drew the attention of Gottfried Arnold to Joris's significance. Arnold credited Hoburg's writings with "bringing to light many other witnesses to the truth." (35) It is likely that Joris was one of these witnesses. In a catalog of words of praise from Joris's defenders, Arnold included Hoburg's tribute to Joris almost word for word. (36)

Arnold wrote his Unparteiische Kirchen und Ketzer Historie (UKKH) in the late 1690s while residing in Quedlinburg, the center of a mystical-spiritualist brand of piety promoted in the works of Jacob Bohme and Johann Arndt. (37) During this time Arnold was a sharp critic of the Lutheran church, and defender of the invisible spiritualist church for whom sectarian differences of dogma and ritual were subordinate to faith and love. (38) Arnold's program for his Unparteiische Kirchen und Ketzer Historie involved identifying and highlighting the spiritualist church of true believers throughout Christian history. In contrast to Protestant histories of the previous two hundred years, pursued with "great violence, self-promotion, self-satisfaction, and partiality," Arnold pursued a different path. He promoted the cause of "the Ketzer, those Who were misunderstood" by both Catholics and Protestants. (39) Arnold wrote his history of the church "from the standpoint of its religious critics, that of the sectarians [Ketzer]." (40) The preeminent representatives, the heroes, of this church were Jacob Bohme, Caspar Schwenckfeld and David Joris. (41)

Arnold's program required an "impartial" approach that took the heretics (Ketzer) more seriously by allowing them to speak for themselves.

   It would be more beneficial if for once a proof of their true
   condition were undertaken from their own documents (Urkunden) in
   place of empty fame and so many false prejudices. To which end, a
   good beginning could be made from extant honest, non-deceitful
   accounts, and not only from those which might be in the possession
   of the orthodox, but also from all those which [exist] among the
   other parties and sects, such as is done sufficiently often in
   these two books. (42)

Possibly the most significant aspect of Arnold's historical achievement was his decision to include in Part IV a mass of primary documents, tracts and testimonies relating to the controversies discussed in the second half of the work. This documentation was key to his program of allowing the Ketzer to speak for themselves in order to facilitate a new appreciation and gain a new hearing for the "silenced groups" of previous confessional histories.

Arnold devoted twenty-seven pages of Part II of his UKKH (pp. 750-778) to defending the reputation of David Joris the Dutch mystical writer, more than he devoted to the rest of the Anabaptist movement and Sebastian Franck combined. Furthermore, in Part IV (pp. 534-737) Arnold included over 200 pages of Joris's writings in translation, more space than he granted the works of any other single author. In Arnold's words, Joris's life and writings represented "a supremely important part of the Ketzer-historie." (43)

Arnold began Part II by observing the unusual animosity shown by both the Lutherans and Reformed toward Joris in calling him a pestilent heretic and "arch-heretic." (44) As a young man, Joris learned to paint, demonstrating great gifts. However his schooling was cut short, and he had no opportunity to learn any languages besides his native Dutch. The young Joris was attracted to the teachings of Melchior Hoffmann, and was baptized by Obbe Philipps. Persecutions arose in Holland and Westphalia, resulting in the execution of thirty-five Anabaptists, including Joris's own mother. Joris wrote several works that he addressed to the authorities in defense of the movement. (45) However, when he arrived in Basel in April 1544, Joris hid his Anabaptist identity, presenting himself as a citizen (Burger), Johann von Bruck. He purchased land and a castle, attended the state church, and was meek and sweet-mannered (sanfftmuthig). In wrapping up this short sketch of Joris's life, Arnold pointed the reader to the more detailed Joris biography contained in Part IV (pp. 703-737), the anonymous "David Joris sonderbare Lebensbeschreibung" in Arnold's translation.

Arnold noted both the criticisms of Joris's enemies, and the many words of praise from his followers, including the tribute by Christian Hoburg. (46) Significantly, Arnold wrote that "even now ... many of his disciples are to be found, who praise and defend him, and hold his books in high regard, especially in Holland, Hollstein, and East Friesland and elsewhere." Arnold provided an extensive listing of Joris's "most important writings" (Part II, pp. 754-756), whose Dutch titles, wrote Arnold, "I have translated as well as I could." (47) Arnold admitted that he had left out many other works by Joris. The titles that Arnold included had mainly to do with Joris's distinction between Christians taught by men and those taught of God; between interpretations of the Bible according to the letter and interpretations according to the spirit. For example, Arnold included Joris's 1548 publication, "Ein unterweisendes und christliches Gesprach zwischen einem Gottes-Gelehrten, Biblisch-Gelehrten und Sophistisch-Gelehrten, worinnen verhandelt wird der rechte verstand der warheit Christi...."; "Eine bescheidene erweisung ... dass die geschriebene schrift nach den buchstaben allein, ohne den wahren geist und sinn Christi, ohne krafft sey"; and "Ein erbaulich Gesprach zwischen zween Brudern, worin erwiesen wird, dass die seligkeit nicht in einem buchstablichen wissen und bekennen, sondem in der kraft des glaubens bestehe ..." (August 1555).

Arnold also included a letter of admonition that Joris wrote to Martin Luther. Joris warned Luther against falling into error through pride in his own reason and wisdom. Joris admonished Luther, as an honored teacher of the faith, to beware of God's judgment, that he not become a deceiver and source of darkness to the people. "Be careful, and overcome evil with good, so that you may possess it and live it. Beware of evil, perverse and devilish thoughts. God be with you!" (48)

Arnold finally addressed the chief accusation brought against Joris: that he made himself out to be the Messiah, the beloved son of God, exalted above Christ. Arnold felt the burden of defending Joris's reputation against this unjust slander and accusation. To address this particular issue, Arnold provided a translation of Joris's 1540 Apology:

   There follows a simple proof of how unfounded and forced other such
   accusations [against Joris] may be, as well as the main point
   itself.... I will add here David Joris's own short Apology,
   translated into German from Dutch, since he himself has answered
   all these accusations long before his death. This is well worth the
   effort, to see a proof of the unfounded accusations of heresy ...
   and on the other hand, to recognize the activity of the orthodox
   fanatics. (49)

In his Apology, Joris addressed twenty-five accusations that had been brought against him, including his supposed denial of the existence of angels and the devil, his supposed rejection of marriage and advocacy of free love, and supposed assertion that his own voice should be heeded above that of Christ. (50) Arnold included the appendix that Joris added to the Apology consisting of Joris's subscription to the Apostles" Creed, with a qualification.

   In summary, we teach our children that they must truly live,
   confess, know, and understand their faith from the heart, and
   demonstrate it in divine power throughout the day, and not hold it
   simply in words alone. Otherwise, they are neither Christians, nor
   among the communion of saints. (51)

The true church of Christ did not hold the memorized words of the Creed above a real and living faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Immediately following the Apology, Arnold added a later Response or Gegen-Bericht written after Joris's death in response to the condemnation of Joris in 1559 by Basel University (pp. 765-777). This consisted of some eleven articles in which Joris supposedly taught heresy, followed by a defense of Joris. It concluded with a warning to believers from Jesus' words in Matthew 23: 13: "woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, you who shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; you yourselves will not enter in, and those who wish to enter it, you do not allow."

To sum up Arnold's discussion of Joris in Part II, for Arnold, Joris's works were like a medicine that was exactly suited to the sick Lutheran church of his day. Joris rebuked those who were academically trained and praised those taught of God; Joris stressed the importance of understanding Scripture and the Apostles' Creed not according to the letter and the mind, but according to the power of the Spirit and living faith in the heart. Joris's spiritualism also modeled a tolerance that appealed to Arnold's own impartial spirit in a day of religious contention. Joris's admonition to Luther, which Arnold cited in full, carried precisely the tone and spirit of Arnold's admonition to his fellow Lutherans to be wary of pride in reason and learning.

In his foreword to Part IV, Arnold defended his publication of selected works by authors widely considered to be heretics. He cited the argument of a Catholic bishop: "There is no book so bad that one cannot derive something good and wholesome." (52) Arnold provided translations of twenty-two tracts and treatises by Joris, some only a couple of pages, and the longest forty-five pages long. (53)

Especially noteworthy among the Joris documents in Part IV is Joris's tract discussing who the Ketzer, or heretics, actually are: On the True Church of Christ, and who the Real Heretics are, Or, In and From Whom Heresy has Arisen (Von der wahren Gemeine Christi, und welches die rechten Ketzer sind; Oder: In- und von wem die Ketzerey entstanden sey) (pp. 611-615). The work unfolds in a series of questions and answers. The tract begins with such questions as: "Which sect has true faith?" and "Which sect has the most learned [teachers]?" To the latter a counter question is posed, "Who do you think count for being learned?" The initial, but wrong, answer comes forth: the most learned are those who are skilled "in Greek, Hebrew, Latin and in the Scriptures." Joris, of course, rejected such a conclusion:

   One can find such learning among all nations, languages and
   tongues, and among the various sects, whether the Saracens in
   Turkey, among the Papists, among the various monks and priests,
   among the Lutherans, Zwinglians, Melanchthonians or Baptists....
   For be he heathen, Jew or Turk, be he Papist or monk, Zwinglian,
   Lutheran, Melanchthonian, or Baptist, whoever, from them you will
   certainly not receive the Spirit of Christ by faith and love of
   eternal truth, much less find a true church, religion, or word of
   eternal truth. (54)

It is wrong to expect to find truth in holy writings, books and letters. One in search of truth and wisdom, wrote Joris, would do better to seek out "the most despised, most insignificant, and most defenseless of people, so long as they believe in God, trusting in him with an upright heart, without regard for their despised and rejected condition." (55) Such Christians are not to be found in any one sect, people or nation. The true church is one that is despised by all the other churches, that is forsaken as a whore or adulterous wife in the darkness. (56)

As for identifying the real heretics, they are the ones who persecute the godly:

   For the real and true church kills no one, but presents itself
   everywhere as ready to suffer in place of others. They seek to kill
   no one, but to make alive.... So, those who do such things (namely
   persecute and kill for the sake of faith) ... they find themselves
   among the heretical, stiff-necked, proud, hard and stubborn heads
   without true religion.... The name of God and his Christ does not
   consist in certain letters or words. (57)

The more they think themselves to be orthodox and believing, covering themselves with indulgences, or their own righteousness or dark robes, the more hateful they become. (58)

Joris's perspective on how to identify truth and heresy (Ketzer) matches Arnold's program in the UKKH precisely. Arnold evidently included this tract, On the True Church of Christ, and who the Real Heretics are, because he concurred with Joris's views, and saw in Joris the epitome of the "Ketzer" whom he sought to represent fairly in his history. With his "Nicodemite" Spiritualism, (59) Joris was a forerunner of Arnold's own decision to live out his Pietist convictions while holding office in a state church that he had earlier condemned. (60) After his marriage in 1701 to the Quedlinburg court chaplain's daughter, Anna Maria Sprogel, Arnold assumed a variety of influential positions in the state Lutheran church, becoming Lutheran Superintendent in Werben in 1705, and pastor and inspector in Perleberg in 1707. (61) Following Joris's example in Basel, Arnold decided that holding a respectable position in a state church that he had earlier condemned was compatible with his deep-seated Pietist spiritualism focused on a heartfelt impartial piety of faith and love.

Joris clearly played "a supremely important part" in Arnold's history. The reason is not far to seek. Joris served Arnold's own program well as he sought to rebuke a Protestant church marred by contentious scholarship and pride in academic learning. In 1698, shortly before his history was published, Arnold resigned his position as professor of history at Giessen after just one year, in utter disillusionment with the pride in academic reputation that he observed there.

Joris and Johann Wilhelm Petersen's Mysterion Apokatastaseos

Panton, Das ist: Das Geheimniss Der Wiederbringung aller Dinge (Offenbach, 1700)

Johann Wilhelm Petersen (1649-1726) studied theology from 1669 to 1677 at Giessen and at Rostock, where he earned a doctorate in theology in 1686. Petersen served as court preacher and superintendent in Eutin, Holstein from 1678 to 1688 and thereafter as superintendent in Luneburg from 1688 to 1692. On September 7, 1680, Petersen married Johanna Eleonora von und zu Merlau, with Spener preaching the wedding sermon. (62) Because of his chiliastic preaching and teaching, Petersen was exiled from his position as church superintendent in Luneburg in early 1692. He and his wife found refuge in Brandenburg-Preussen thanks to the support and pension provided by the Berlin Kammerprasident Dodo yon Knyphausen. The Petersens spent the next three and a half decades as private authors living in Magdeburg under the protection of the Berlin nobleman. (63)

The Petersens were the most significant figures of their day in the battles over chiliasm and universalism due to their forthright and prolific defense of the doctrines. According to the historian Hans Schneider:

   J.W. Petersen's literary productivity was considerable. In his
   autobiography he was able to list among his writings for the period
   1692 to 1717 the impressive number of fifty-four published works,
   and another 106 manuscripts ready for publication. In addition
   there were about twenty books by his wife. The largest number of
   these writings was devoted to discussing such important questions
   as the thousand-year kingdom and the following restoration of all
   creatures ... and defending these teachings against a multitude of
   polemical works. (64)

The prominence of Johann Wilhelm Petersen as an object of Orthodox criticism, especially focusing on his chiliasm, is clearly evident in the Compendium by Georg Friederic Niehenck. In Niehenck's documentation of Pietist errors in their own literature, Petersen's works figured more prominently than those of anyone else. (65)

Petersen's historical bent is evident in two massive works that he composed: Nubes Testium Veritatis De Regno Christi Glorioso, in Septima Tuba Futuro Testantium, vols. I-III (Frankfurt: Johann David Zunner, 1696), in which he sketched the history of the Christian doctrine of the millennial kingdom of Christ going back to Adam and Eve; and Das Geheimniss Der Wiederbringung aller Dinge (1700), in which he defended the teaching of universal salvation, including the devil and his angels, by appeal to past Christian teachers. In this last work he highlighted the work of David Joris. It was likely Arnold who first drew Petersen's attention to Joris's significance. (66)

Petersen lamented that Joris's critics had unjustly maligned him, not understanding him nor the spirit in which he wrote. Critics such as the Catholic writer Jessenius attributed "lies" to Joris, things "which never even occurred to him." (67) Petersen indicated the manner in which Joris's difficult writings must be read:

   If one considers all this in the aforementioned work [the
   Wunderbuch] and in other of his works, and looks not so much to one
   or another of his words as to the whole meaning, then one will
   better appreciate him and those like him, which people neither in
   his day nor in following times have wished to do. (68)

Citing the Wunderbuch, Petersen found in the enlightened Joris the teaching that the redeeming work of Christ included the restoration of all things. Christ at the right hand of God waits until all his enemies bow before his footstool. His authority in heaven and in earth will one day be honored by all, and all things will be reconciled to him. On that day Christ will illumine "the whole circle of the earth." (69)

   That is the complete panorama of the work of our great savior which
   David Joris, ... no longer according to the flesh but according to
   the Spirit, has known and has honored for his savior and redeemer
   in all his writings. And therefore in the conclusion to the third
   book of his Wunderbuch [Joris] boasts that he has received
   graciously from above the unprecedented gift and spirit of wisdom,
   the knowledge and understanding of heavenly things, [received]
   through the lord and savior of the world. (70)

Joris thus played a modest but significant part in Petersen's effort to find past precedents for his teaching on the restoration of all things. Petersen identified with the misunderstanding and opposition suffered by Joris for teaching truths that could only be spiritually discerned.


Among writers widely read by seventeenth-century German Pietists, the works of David Joris must certainly be included. Gottfried Arnold observed that "even now ... many of his disciples are to be found, who praise and defend him, and hold his books in high regard." (71) Joris's writings continued to exert their appeal a century and a half later among those dissatisfied with orthodox Protestant religion who preferred a religion "based on the inner word, personal spiritual perfection," and religious tolerance. (72)

This study has argued that Joris served later Pietists as an inspirational Spiritualist saint, model and point of reference. In a time when Europe was exhausted by the Thirty Years War and religious strife, Joris modeled an inward religion of the heart that minimized differences of sacrament and confession. Pietists were attracted by the way in which Joris undermined the learning of orthodox theologians in favor of a church taught directly by God's Spirit. Joris served as a historical witness and benchmark for the Pietist effort to reorient Christianity away from ceremony and sacrament to inward experience, and figured prominently in Hoburg's, Arnold's and Petersen's effort to rethink and retell the communal story as found in the Christian past. All three would have agreed with Joris that "the pure teaching of Christ would never be found in the great mass of the various sects and religions, but only among the few, unknown laity, despised and rejected by the world." (73)

(1.) Horst Weigelt, Spiritualistische Tradition im Protestantismus: Die Geschichte des Schwenckfeldertums in Schlesien (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1973). This work has been translated into English by Peter C. Erb as Horst Weigelt, The Schwenkfelders in Silesia (Pennsburg, Pa.: Schwenkfelder Library, 1984). Marcus Meyer's recently completed doctoral dissertation at Phllipps-University Marburg is entitled, "Schwarzenauer Neutaufern," and deals with Anabaptist roots of the German Inspired.

(2.) Martin Brecht, "Das Aufkommen der neuen Frommigkeitsbewegung in Deutschland," Der Pietismus vom siebzehnten bis zum fruhen achtzehnten Jahrhundert (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993), 113-203.

(3.) Ibid., 119, 121.

(4.) Gary Waite, David Joris and Dutch Anabaptism, 1524-1543 (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1990), 1. See also G. Waite, "Joris, David" in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University, 1996), 354. In a recent article Waite addresses hagiographic aspects of Joris's biography, but without mentioning Pietist veneration of Joris: "Anabaptist Anticlericalism and the Laicization of Sainthood: Anabaptist Saints and Sanctity in the Netherlands," in Confessional Sanctity (c. 1550-1800), eds. Jurgen Beyer et al. (Mainz: Institut fur Europaische Geschichte, 2004).

(5.) See Gary Waite, "Joris, David" in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University, 1996), 355. A. van der Linde's David Joris Bibliografie (Martinus Nijhoff, 1867) found evidence of some 264 religious tracts written by Joris, but Waite finds van der Linde in need of updating. A large collection of Joris material, called the Jorislade, is housed in the Basel University Archives, comprising some fifteen volumes. See Waite, "David Joris," ME, 5:216.

(6.) Mirjam G.K. van Veen, "Spiritualism in The Netherlands: From David Joris to Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert," Sixteenth Century Journal 33 (Spring, 2002), 133 and n. 18, 19. See Valkema Blouw, "Printers to the 'arch-heretic' David Joris: Prolegomena to a Bibliography of His Works," Quaerendo 21:3 (1991), 192-209. Van Veen notes that a library in Leeuwarden possesses a volume of manuscript writings of David Joris. Only some of these have been edited. Martin Rothkegel describes three manuscripts of works by David Joris discovered in the Staats- und Universitatsbibliothek in Hamburg.--Martin Rothkegel, "Three Sixteenth Century Manuscripts of Writings of David Joris," MQR 75 (July 2001), 383-86.

(7.) G. K. van Veen, "Spiritualism in The Netherlands," 132.

(8.) Gary Waite, "Spiritualizing the Crusade: David Joris in the Context of the Early Reform and Anabaptist Movements in the Netherlands, 1524-1543" (Ph.D. diss., University of Waterloo, 1986).

(9.) From 1527 on the Basel city council acted aggressively against Anabaptists, threatening exile or execution against members of sectarian groups in the city or its rural territories. However, prominent or wealthy visitors and dissenters who agreed to live quietly were often tolerated. See Gary Waite, David Joris and Dutch Anabaptism, 1524-1543 (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1990), 178f.

(10.) Ibid., 185, 186.

(11.) G.K. van Veen, "Spiritualism in The Netherlands," 132. The book was entitled: Davidis Georgii Holandi Haeresiarchae vita et doctrina (Basileae, 1559).

(12.) Ibid., 129. Joris was accused of continuing the Miinsterite practice of polygamy--Waite, David Joris and Dutch Anabaptism, 180. The story of Joris's bigamy continued to be in circulation thirty years after his death.--Roland Bainton, The Travail of Religious Liberty (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1951), 146.

(13.) The publication appeared monthly in 1701, weekly in 1702 and then fifteen times a year for the rest of its publication life, up till 1720.

(14.) Unschuldige Nachrichten von Alten und Neuen Theologischen Sachen Zur heiligen Sontags Ubung verfertiget, Von einigen Dienern des Gottl. Wortes. Erster und Andrer Sontag 1702 (Leipzig: bey den Grossischen Erben, 1702), 5-9. The original title was "Schatz Theologischer Wissenschafften." In 1702 it was changed to "Unschuldige Nachrichten von Alten und Neuen Theologischen Sachen."

(15.) "Und well dabey vornehmlich unser Gott geheiligter Fleiss in kurzer und genauer analysi und recension derer Bucher bestehen soll, als wollen wir bey iedweden, woes nothig ist, aus des Scribenten eigenen Worten bemercken

1. Genium auctoris, und was seine Person und Schreibart angehet,

2. Sein Absehen

3. Methode und Ausfuhrung,

4. Gefahrliche Lehren, so darinnen anzutreffen,

5. Was sonsten en particulier daraus zu mercken hochnotig ist.

6. Denen Feinden der Wahrheit wollen wit auch zeigen ihre absurda, und ignorantias, so iedweden Leser in die Augen fallen mussen." See the "Vorrede" in: Valentin Ernest Loscher, Pastor and Superint. Juterborg, Unschuldige Nachrichten yon Alten und Neuen Theologischen Sachen Zur heiligen Sontags Ubung verfertiget, Von einigen Dienern des Gottl. Wortes, 1. January 1701 (Leipzig: bey den Grossischen Erben, 1701), 9

(16.) Ibid., 184, 751; Unschuldige Nachrichten (1711), 101, 105; Unschuldige Nachrichten (1714), 913.

(17.) Christian Hoburg. Der unbekante Christus, Das ist, Grundlicher Beweiss dass die heutige so genante Christenheit in allen Secten den wahren Christum nicht recht kennen und derowegen in Lugen und nicht in Warheit sich nach Ihm Christen nennen (Nimagen: Andreas Luppius, 1684).

(18.) See Philipp Hoburg, Lebenslauf des seeligen Christian Hoburgs (1692). Christian Hoburg sometimes used the pseudonyms Bernhard Baumann and Elias Praetorius.

(19.) Brecht, "Die deutschen Spiritualisten des 17. Jahrhundert," 227f.

(20.) Christian Hoburg, Der Unbekante Christus (Nimagen: Andreas Luppius, 1684), title page. "Der Unbekante Christus ... Die sichere Hertzen auffzuwecken: Die Schrifft-luge Pharisaer zu beschamen: Die gemeine Christen aber sich grundlicher zu pruffen."

(21.) Ibid., "Vorrede."

(22.) Brecht, "Die deutschen Spiritualisten des 17. Jahrhunderts," 228.

(23.) Hoburg, Der Unbekante Christus, "Summarischer Begriff."

(24.) Ibid.

(25.) Ibid.

(26.) Ibid.

(27.) Hoburg, Der Unbekante Christus, 13.

(28.) Hoburg, Der Unbekante Christus, "Summarischer Begriff."

(29.) Hoburg, Der Unbekante Christus, 143. "Dieser Mann, ja dieser Hollandische Lehrer, lehret von dem lebendigen Erkantnisse Christi so schon, dass ich mein Leben-lang es nirgend so grundlich gesehen."

(30.) Ibid., 144f.

(31.) "Ob ihn aber die Schrifftgelehrte verlastern und verketzem so ist doch das eines der allergewissesten Kennzeichen dass seine Lehre nicht yon der Welt sondern aus Gott ist."--Ibid., 143.

(32.) Unschuldige Nachrichten von Alten und Neuen Theologischen Sachen, Zur heiligen Sonntags Ubung verfertiget (Leipzig: 1702), 751. "[Hoburg] praised Joris as a complete man of God in highest measure. At the same time Joris retained Holy Scripture, church ceremonies, and imputation of Christ's righteousness. Therefore he should not be included among the crude ranks of the fanatics."

(33.) Brecht, "Die deutschen Spiritualisten des 17. Jahrhunderts," 228.

(34.) Van Veen, "Spiritualism in the Netherlands," 129f.

(35.) "Christian Hoheburg ... aus seinen vielfaltigen schrifften, hat viele andere zeugen der wahrheit ... ans licht gestellet, biss er von den Lutherischen und Reformirten ausgestossen, den Mennisten geprediget, und bey ihnen zu Altenau gestorben ist."--Gottfried Arnold, Unpartheyische Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, Vom Anfang des neuen Testaments Biss auf das Jahr Christi 1688, Vierter Theil (Franckfurt am Mayn: Thomas Fritschens sel. Erben, 1729), 1093.

(36.) "Er sey ein solcher Theosophus mysticus oder geheimbder Gottes-Gelehrter gewesen, dass seines gleichen schriften niemals gelesen worden, ein warhaftiger Gottesmann, den Gott dem menschen zum besten selber erwecket hatte."--Gottfried Arnold, Kirchen und KetzerHistorie, Anderer Theil, 752. See the wording of Christian Hoburg, Der Unbekante Christus, 143: "Joris, welcher ein solcher Theosophus Mysticus, dass ich seines gleichen Schrifften nicht gelesen, wie viel ich auch derer gelesen ... seine Lehre nicht von der Welt sondern aus Gott ist ... Dieser Mann, ja dieser Hollandische Lehrer, lehret von dem lebendigen Erkantnisse Christi so schon dass ich mein Leben-lang es nirgend so grundlich gesehen."

(37.) In 1697 Quedlinburg came under the jurisdiction of the Brandenburg Elector.

(38.) See Hans Schneider, "Der radikale Pietismus im 17. Jahrhundert," in Der Pietismus vom siebzehnten bis zum fruhen achtzehnten Jahrhundert, ed. Martin Brecht (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993), 414.

(39.) Wolfgang Bienert, "Ketzer oder Wahrheitszeuge. Zum Ketzerbegriff Gottfried Arnolds," Zeitschrift fur Kirchengeschichte 88 (1977), 230.

(40.) Horst Moller, Vernunft und Kritik: Deutsche Aufklarung im 17. Und 18. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1986), 27. "Tatsachlich schrieb Arnold die Geschichte der Kirche vom Standpunkt ihrer religiosen Kritiker her, von den Ketzern."

(41.) Horst Moller rightly highlighted Arnold's rootedness in Bohme's thought: "Unparteilichkeit ist seine Maxime, aber sein Standort ist die vonder Mystik Bohmes und dem Pietismus der eigenen Zeit gepragte radikale, auf das eigene Gewissen sich stutzende Kritik an der Amtskirche."--Ibid., 27.

(42.) "So mochte ja wol desto heilsamer seyn, wo an statt des eitelen ruhms und so vieler falschen vorurtheile einmal aus denen domestiquen urkunden eine prufung des eigenen zustandes angestellet wurde. Wozu denn aus gegenwartigen und andern dergleichen aufrichtigen ungeheuchelten beschreibungen ein guter anfang gemachet werden konte, und zwar nicht allein von denen, die vor andern in possession der orthodoxie seyn sollen, sondern auch von den ubrigen partheyen und secten allen, als welchen auch hiezu in diesen 2 buchern genugsam anlass gegeben wird."--Gottfried Arnold, "Vorrede auf die letztere zwey Bucher, Oder Den zweyten Theil," Anderer Theil Der Kirchen- und Katzer-Historie, von anno 1500 biss 1688, 453.

(43.) "Und weil dasselbe diesen gantzen wichtigen theil der ketzer-geschichte hauptsachlich illustriren wird; so ist es allhier in HochoTeutsch treulich ubersetzt, zu sehen."--Gottfried Arnold, Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, Vierter Theil, 703.

(44.) Gottfried Arnold, Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, Anderer Theil, 750.

(45.) Ibid., 751.

(46.) "Er sey ein solcher Theosophus mysticus oder geheimbder Gottes-Gelehrter gewesen, dass seines gleichen schriften niemals gelesen worden, ein warhaftiger Gottesmann, den Gott dem menschen zum besten selber erwecket hatte."--Ibid., 752.

(47.) Gottfried Arnold, Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, Anderer Theil, 752.

(48.) Ibid., 756.

(49.) Ibid., 758. The translation appeared on pages 758-765.

(50.) Ibid.. 759f.

(51.) Ibid., 764f.

(52.) Gottfried Arnold, Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, Vierter Theft, 296, cf. 534-737.

(53.) Among the Joris documents published in Part IV is a fresh translation of both Joris's 1540 Apology and the Response or Gegen-bericht. Arnold discovered numerous inaccuracies that had appeared in the version included in Part II. "The reason is because the first version was a rough draft prepared by a friend, and this was mistakenly mixed up with the corrected finished copy and published."--Gottfried Arnold, Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, Vierter Theil, 549. These two works are followed by Arnold's translation of the complete text of another apology authored by Joris, addressed to a critic of Joris, Ubbo Emmius, rector of a school in Groningen: Apologie David Joris wider Emmium und andere (45 pages). Arnold then translated a whole series of short tracts by Joris, including a two-page tract on The Mortification of the Flesh (David Joris Schrifft von Todtung des Flesiches); a tract entitled, On the True Church of Christ, and who the True Heretics are (Von der wahren Gemeine Christi, und welches die rechten Ketzer sind), 5 pages; a treatise on the fall and restoration of humankind, A Clear Statement of how Humanity Fell from God, and in what Way We may be brought back to God Again (Ein klarer Bericht, Wie der Mensch yon Gott gefallen, und auf was art er wieder zu Gott gebracht werde (1543), 13 pages; Joris's commentary on Romans 7, David Joris's Explanation of the Seventh Chapter to the Romans (David Joris Erklarung des siebenden capitels an die Romer), 6 pages; Joris's tract, Concerning the Godless and false Preachers, and the Godly and True Preachers (David Joris tractatlein von den gottlosen oder ungerechten, und von den frommen oder rechten Predigern), 8 pages; an admonition on true and false wisdom, Concerning Faith (Vom Glauben), 13 pages. The final document that Arnold included was the anonymous biography of Joris, David Joris sonderbare Lebens-beschreibung aus einem manuscripto (35 pages). This biography is so rich in detail that one scholar suggests it may be by Joris himself. Scholars still depend upon Arnold's High German rendering of the anonymous Joris biography since the Dutch original is no longer extant.--Waite, The Anabaptist Writings of David Joris, 31. Waite translated Arnold's German version of the biography for inclusion in his collection of Joris sources in English translation.

(54.) Gottfried Arnold, Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, Vierter Theil, 612.

(55.) Ibid.

(56.) Ibid., 614.

(57.) Ibid., 615.

(58.) Ibid.

(59.) On Joris's Nicodemism see Waite, The Anabaptist Writings of David Joris, 17, 24. The term refers to Joris's practice of "concealing unorthodox beliefs under a cover of conformity." He thereby escaped martyrdom, and avoided the necessity of a separated church. Also see Waite, David Joris and Dutch Anabaptism, 27, 42 n.36, 75.

(60.) In 1702 Arnold became pastor in Allstedt, in 1705 superintendent in Werben/Altmark, and in 1707 pastor and inspector in Perleberg/Ostpriegnitz.--Johannes Wallmann, Der Pietismus (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1990), 94f.

(61.) Douglas H. Shantz, "'Back to the Sources': Gottfried Arnold, Johann Henrich Reitz, and the Distinctive Program and Practice of Pietist Historical Writing," in Commoners and Community: Essays in Honour of Werner O. Packull, ed C. Arnold Snyder (Kitchener, Ont.: Pandora Press, 2002), 83, 96 n.55.

(62.) Philipp Jacob Spener. Die vereinigung Christi mit seiner Kirche und jeglicher glaubigen Seele: Auss den worten des Hocherleuchten Apostels Pauli Ephes. V, 32. Das geheimnus ist gross, ich sage aber von Christo und der Gemeine (Franckfurt: Johann David Zunners, 1680).

(63.) Wallmann, Der Pietismus, 87.

(64.) Hans Schneider, "Der radikale Pietismus im 18. Jahrhundert," in Der Pietismus im achtzehnten Jahrhundert, eds. Martin Brecht and Klaus Deppermann (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1995), 114.

(65.) Looking back over twenty years of chiliastic controversy, Niehenck wrote of Petersen's "many writings in behalf of chiliasm" (Egit hac de materia in multis pro chiliasmo editis scriptis). He explicitly credited Petersen with being the leading voice in defense of chiliasm.--Georg Friderick Niehenck, Compendium errorum pietisticorum (Rostock, 1710), 178, 180.

(66.) "Der beruhmete Hr. Godfreid Arnold hat auch in seinen Buchern viele Spuhren hinterlassen worauss man warnehmen kan dass er in einem reinen Erkantniss diese grosse Warheit erkenne....--J.W. Petersen, "Einige Zeugnisse so woll alter als neuer Zeugen Von der Warheit," Mysterion Apokatastaseos Panton: oder Das Geheimniss der Widerbringung aller Dinge Durch Jesum Christum, Tomus Secundus (Offenbach: 1700), 25.

(67.) J.W. Petersen, Mysterion Apokatastaseos Panton, Das ist: Das Geheimniss der Widerbringung aller Dinge (Offenbach: 1700), 31-32.

(68.) Ibid. 34.

(69.) Ibid.

(70.) Ibid. "Das ist die gantze periphorie der Wercke unsers grossen Heilandes, welchen David Joris nach der Aussprache des H. Apostels Pauli nicht mehr nach dem Fleische sondern nach dem Geiste gekandt, und fur seinen Heiland und Erloser in allen seinen Schrifften verehret hat, und deswegen im Beschluss des dritten Buchs seines Wunderbuchs von Ibm ruhmet dass er durch Ihn als seinen Herin und Heiland der Welt die unerhorte Gabe und Geist der Weissheit, die Erkantniss und den Verstand der himmlischen Dinge von oben herab auss Gnaden empfangen habe."

(71.) Gottfried Arnold, Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, Anderer Theil, 752.

(72.) G. Waite, "Joris, David," The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, II:354.

(73.) Gottfried Arnold, Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie, Vierter Theil, 298.


* Douglas H. Shantz is Associate Professor of Christian Thought at the University of Calgary.


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