Jesper Jakobsen: Censorship of “Der Klagen über das verdorbene Christenthum”. In the summer of 1739, the manuscript of a Danish translation of Philip Jacob Spener’s (1635–1705) anti-separatist polemical text, Der Klagen über das verdorbene Christenthum, was submitted to the General Church Inspection Committee (Committee of the Church) that, according to laws then in effect, was to decide whether it could be published. During the 1730s, Spener’s “Halle” evangelical exegesis of pietism was elevated almost to the level of a State religion in Denmark and the Committee of the Church endeavoured to disseminate it. The translation had, as required, previously been scrutinised and approved by the bishop in Viborg, the town in which the translator, Johannes Treschow (1691–1751), lived. The Committee of the Church would not, however, allow the translation to be published without reservations, and the article examines the factors and agendas underlying the reserved opinion. The article is based on the case documents stored in the archives in the Committee of the Church, the Faculty of Theology and the Diocese of Viborg. The case confirms the general perception among Danish historians that the bishops’ role in the censorship process was to relieve the censorship authorities in Copenhagen. Bishop Andreas Wøldike’s (1687–1770) correspondence with the Committee of the Church provides evidence that he had read the document thoroughly before he sent the manuscript to Copenhagen. However, Wøldike also had personal interests at stake in the case. His ill-concealed enthusiasm for the translation of Spener’s text was connected partly to the fact that he knew the translator personally and partly to the fact that he, by promoting a text by Spener, could improve his relationship with the Church’s highest authorities, since he previously had been ambiguous in his attitude towards pietism. The Committee of the Church’s reservations relative to the translation were not based on theological disagreements but on the practical consideration that the Viborg diocese had quite recently been witness to separatist unrest. The Committee of the Church, out of fear of new unrest, would probably have preferred to do without the text altogether, but it could not ban a text by a theologian around whom, at the same time, attempts were being made to unite the church. It could, however, prohibit the translation from including the interpretations and commentaries to Spener’s intention with the text that Treschow had added. It could thereby reduce the risk of new religious conflicts and best serve the interests of the State church.
|Denmark. Kongelige Bibliotek. Fund og Forskning
|Number of pages
|Published - 2011