Freed from selfhood

As I was browsing through a used bookstore, I chanced upon a small treasure, an early English translation of a book whose author we don’t know (identified only by place of residence as “the Frankfurter”). I could only guess at the date of composition (probably toward the end of the 14th century). The nondescript title—Theologia Germanica—was chosen by someone other than the author. Martin Luther was the first to publish the book in 1516, mainly because he had “not seen a more wholesome theology, one more in accordance with the Gospels, either in Latin or in our language.” In the preface to the second edition he praised the author, who spoke “beyond the manner of ordinary preachers and teachers. . . . Yea, [the book] floats not on the surface like foam on the water, but it is gathered from the bottom of the Jordan by a true Israelite, whose name God knows.”

 

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