Melchior Hoffman: The Writings. Critical Edition - Project details

online – print

Melchior Hoffman has been understood as the great apocalyptic misfit of the German Reformation – although he stood at the beginning of one of the broadest and most viable strands of Anabaptism. A furrier by trade (born around 1495 in Schwäbisch Hall) and religiously committed throughout his life, he travelled along Hanseatic League shipping routes and preached along the borders of German-speaking regions, in Baltic cities like Riga, Dorpat and Reval, in Sweden, then in Danish Holstein, in Frisia, and the upper Rhine valley. But wherever he went, he was met with reservations, rejection, and persecution. He spent the last ten years of his life, until his death likely at the end of 1543, imprisoned in Strasbourg. On his way he seems to have tested and rejected most Reformation teaching and especially Lutheran doctrines, while preaching a radical, personal, spiritualistic and apocalyptic faith. As a publicist he owned and ran his own printing press in Kiel, and quickly established contact with the printers of dissident and Anabaptist circles in Strasbourg; he even managed to get tracts he had written in prison printed in Cologne and the Netherlands for his followers there. With a missionary stay in East Frisia, Melchior Hoffman began his own branch of confessional baptism, which had far-reaching consequences in the ›Anabaptist kingdom‹ of Münster and in Mennonite Anabaptism.

The editorial project will enable full access to the complete works of Melchior Hoffman, an extensive multilingual corpus of texts (ca. 1600 pgs. in early modern editions). The texts represent a body of work important to ›radical reformation‹ thinking, including oft discussed theological problems (e. g. anticlericalism, apocalypticism, biblical hermeneutics, Christology, freedom of the will, the Eucharist, and the question of violence). The hybrid edition will combine a TEI-XML-encoded edited text synoptically with digitalised images of the early printed texts, a critical apparatus and a commentary, and a book edition of the texts. 



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