British devotional literature and the rise of German Pietism : an investigation
Was British devotional literature a major factor in the rise of German Pietism? Beginning in the very first decade of the seventeenth century, eighteen books by the Puritan William Perkins were put into German for the benefit of Calvinist readers. He has been called the "father of Pietism." Works by other Pietistic Puritans were also translated into German at an early date. Three books rapidly gained official access to the Lutheran church. Edmund Bunny's Protestant version of Robert Parsons's Booke of Resolvtion was put into German and published in 1612. It was quickly adapted and expanded for Lutheran use, and it went through at least forty-eight editions by 1750. Lewis Bayly's Practice of Pietie, which had been translated into German and published at Basel in 1628, was adapted for Lutheran use in 1631. By 1750 it had gone through at least sixty-eight editions. Joseph Hall's Arte of Divine Meditation, which was put into German in 1631, went through at least sixty-one editions by 1750 as the second part of The Practice of Pietie. Although Daniel Dyke's Mystery of Selfe-Deceiuing did not gain official access to the Lutheran church, it was widely disseminated in Lutheran areas and went through at least twenty editions by 1728. British writers enjoyed great popularity in Germany. At least thirty-one works by Joseph Hall, thirty by Richard Baxter, and nine by John Bunyan, for example, were put into German; and some of them went through a number of editions. The party for reform within Lutheran orthodoxy, Pietism's immediate predecessor, was greatly influenced by British devotional books; and some of its leaders introduced them to the Lutheran church. In the course of time, they became thoroughly familiar with the ideals proclaimed in these books and made them their own. By 1750 more than 690 British religious works, most of which were devotional in character, were translated into German. Although the authors of some of them are not known, 301 or more of them were written by known British writers. Collectively these works involve approximately seventeen hundred editions and impressions. As Pietism advanced, more and more of them were translated into German and published by Lutherans. Johann Hülsemann began a controversy over British devotional literature in 1654 that lasted well into the first decades of the eighteenth century. Much of the criticism that was leveled against this body of writings is exactly the same as the criticism that was directed against Pietism. The cumulative effect of the available evidence creates the impression that German translations of British devotional books were a major and decisive factor in the rise and development of the Pietistic movement in Germany.