Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Theologia Germanica

Theologia Germanica – Written during the Reign of Avignon Papacy 

Theologia Germanica
The Theologia Germanica known also as Theologia Deutsch or Teutsch or Der Franckforter is presumed to be written around 1350 by an anonymous author and as per the introduction of the Theologia, it seemed that the author was a priest who was a member in the house of the Teutonic Order, living in Frankfort, Germany. It was written during the troublesome reign of the Avignon Papacy from 1309-1378, where numerous clerics were refrained from performing Catholic rites due to the power struggle between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor.

This resulted in the lay groups of pious people such as the `Friends of God’, led by Dominicans, John Tauler and Blessed Henry Suso, becoming very prominent during this period and the author seemed to be associated with the Friends of God. Though speculation of the author went on, it was discovered and published by Martin Luther in the year 1516 and on his discovery, Luther declared that next to the Bible and St. Augustine, he had not found any other book from which he had learnt more of God and Christ and man and all things.

Most Influential and Widely Read

Theologia Germanica 1
Luther had produced two editions of the text in 1516, a partial text without a tile and another in 1518 with a title `Eyn deutsch Theologia’ and his input further enhanced the books’ continuous appeal with repeated publication. The Theologia Germanica was most influential and widely read and continuously published German religious text during the Middle Ages. The book urges Christians to follow the path of Christ, by detaching the life of selfishness, licentiousness and sin.

 It is a belief that when one allows the divine light of God to penetrate our daily activities,Gods becomes our guide directing our will with His Perfect Will. The Theologia Germanica was written within the framework of Christian tradition though the author’s spiritual advice is conveyed to Christians of all denominations and this would aid those who wholeheartedly tend to live a righteous life on earth. Only eight manuscripts of the Theologia Germanica survive till date which comes from the second half of the fifteenth century. Hence it was not widely disseminated before it drew the attention of Martin Luther who is credited in giving the treatise it modern name.

Focused on Latin Christianity

Written more than a century before Luther’s time, the theology is focused on the Latin Christianity of the Rhineland and appears in several editions and languages during its six hundred years old history which has taken its place alongside the Imitation of Christ in the literature of devotion.

Based on the Wurtzburg Manuscript, discovered in the nineteenth century, Susanna Winkworth translated the full version of the Theologia Germanica and the first publication of her translation in 1854 included additional passages which were not found in the editions that were made popular by Martin Luther. The syntax and the grammar of Susanna Winkworth’s original translation has been preserved from the German manuscript creating an edition which is true to the composition of the original translation while at the same time providing a modern and easy text reading.

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