Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Dutch, Dutch, Dutch!

For the past several days I have been tracking down information on the dozen or so Dutch publications of Jonathan Edwards's works in the 18th century. This has been no easy task for me. Despite the benefits of the digital age in which we now live, it has been challenging to find sources online that talk about 18th-century Dutch publishing. Brill has an online database of booksale catalogues that I would love to peruse, however, it is extremely pricey. So pricey that Harvard isn't even a subscriber!

I have found the Dutch historian Fred Lieburg's article on "Interpreting the Dutch Great Awakening, 1749-1755," published in the journal Church History in 2008, to be especially helpful for my research. Also useful is the edited volume, Een golf van beroering: De Omstreden religiuze opwekking in Nederland in het midden van de achttiende eeuw (Hilversum, 2001), which features some very good articles by Lieburg and Joris van Eijnatten (among others). Thanks to Google Books and Google Translate, I have been able to read the pertinent sections that I need for my research.

The central topic in many of these essays is a significant revival that took place in the Veluwe region of Gelderland around 1750. The impetus for this revival seems to have been the fervent preaching of the Nijkerk Reformed pastor Gerardus Kuypers, who later recorded the events surrounding this spiritual resurgence in a Dutch publication. Kuypers also relayed information on the Dutch awakening to the Glasgow evangelical minister John Gillies, who published an account of the revival in the second volume of his Historical Collections Relating to Remarkable Periods of the Success of the Gospel in 1754.

Jonathan Edwards learned of the Dutch awakening from extracts of Kuypers's letters to Gillies as well as James Davenport, who received a firsthand account from John Frelinghuysen, the second son of the Reformed Dutch minister Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, who emigrated to the Raritan Valley of New Jersey in the 1720s to begin his influential ministry as an itinerant preacher. John Frelinghuysen apparently had been in the Netherlands during the Nijkerk revival, staying at the parsonage of Gerardus van Schuylenburg, a Reformed pastor at Tienhoven near Utrecht. News of the Dutch awakening also made its way to Britain when Hugh Kennedy, one of the pastors at the Scots Church at Rotterdam, published his Short Account of the Rise and Continuing Progress of a Remarkable Work of Grace in the United Netherlands at London in 1752.

I don't want to go into all the details here, but there is an intricate network of correspondence among evangelical ministers in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, and America all of whom help propagate the news of the Dutch awakening on both sides of the Atlantic. These networks are also related to the publications of several Dutch editions of Edwards's books, including his Faithful Narrative (twice at Amsterdam in 1740, and once in Leeuwarden in 1750), The Life of Brainerd (published at Utrecht in 1756, with a preface by Gerardus van Schuylenburg), Freedom of the Will (Utrecht, 1774), A History of the Work of Redemption (Utrecht, 1776), Religious Affections (Utrecht, 1779), Concerning the End for Which God Created the World (Amsterdam, 1788), Original Sin (published in two parts at Amsterdam in 1790 and 1792), The Wisdom of God in the Permission of Sin (Utrecht, 1791), and Samuel Hopkins's Life of Edwards (Utrecht, 1791). Many of the people involved in translating and publishing these editions had intimate ties with key members of a transatlantic network of evangelical ministers.

Recently, Frans Huisman, at the Library of Vrije Univeristiet Amsterdam, has helpfully alerted me to a valuable digital database of Dutch translated works prior to 1800 that he began assembling in 1995. In 2011, the Pietas database became active online, with some 6,200 texts. Although the website comes up in Dutch, you can use Google Translate to change it to English. There are also Dutch and English interfaces. Running a search on Pietas, I was amazed to find what appear to be two Dutch editions of Jonathan Edwards's works that are not listed in Thomas H. Johnson's The Printed Writings of Jonathan Edwards. One is a sermon on Psalm 65:[2] entitled, De allerhoogste God is een hoorder der gebeden (1793), and the other is a 1792 Dutch edition of Edwards's sermon on the eternity of hell torments (Betoog voor de eeuwigheid der straffen in een toekomstig leeven).

I am still working on assembling a coherent narrative on how Jonathan Edwards's works were published in the Netherlands, but I am enjoying the research so far.

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