Earlier Editions of Spener’s Letters

The collection and publication of the letters of Philipp Jakob Spener began already during his lifetime. A four-volume collection of his German-language letters, published by Spener himself, appeared from 1700 to 1702 under the title „Theologische Bedencken und andere briefliche Antworten“ (21707-1709; 31712-1715). After his death, Freiherr Carl Hildebrand von Canstein published three volumes with additional Spener letters („Letzte theologische Bedencken“, 1711/21721) as well as a collection of Latin letters („Consilia et Iudicia theologica latina“, 1709). All three series have been republished since the 1990s as facsimile editions in the Olms-Verlag (eds. Erich Beyreuther and Dietrich Blaufuß).

In these editions of the letters, many names were deleted, or passages of text were left out, which fundamentally hindered the proper comprehension of the contents of the letters. Moreover there are numerous orthographic inconsistencies and printing errors, so that these editions no longer meet present-day text-critical demands.

In the course of the eighteenth century, additional (newly discovered) letters by Spener were published in periodicals and collected works.  In the nineteenth century, various groups of Spener’s letters were re-edited or published for the first time. Thus, for example, „Philipp Jakob Spener‘s deutsche und lateinische theologische Bedenken“ (ed. F.A.E. Hennicke), a selection from the above-mentioned editions, appeared in 1838. Among others, Spener’s correspondence with August Hermann Francke (1861, ed. Gustav Kramer) and a collection of (selected) Spener letters to Anna Elisabeth Kißner, doctor’s widow in Frankfurt a. M. and a confidant of Spener (1936, ed. August Nebe), were edited.

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