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Het Trefwoord 'Holland': Opschudding Over Een Artikel in De Real-Encyklopädie (1856)

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image of Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis / Dutch Review of Church History
For more content, see Church History and Religious Culture.

In 1856 the sixth volume of the editio princeps of the famous German encyclopedia Real-Encyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche was published. The volume included a lengthy article on the history and present situation of the Dutch Reformed Church and other protestant churches in the Netherlands. A reformed minister of Frankfurt am Main, Carl (or Karl) Sudhoff, was the author. His article provoked a fierce protest. A Dutch ministers' association demanded from the editor, the Erlangen professor J.J. Herzog, a new article that put right what they regarded as errors. Herzog was not very inclined to comply, for it is hardly common practice to enter critical supplements in an encyclopedia. Finally, however, he gave way. The Leyden professor J.J. Prins wrote an article with a mass of criticism and after the endorsement of the ministers' association this was sent to Erlangen. Those discontented men then fell into a rage again. There was indeed a supplement to the article on Holland at the end of the eighth volume of the Real-Encyklopädie, but it did not offer the text of Prins. Herzog had added his own commentary to Prins's review. Time and again he remarked that the severe criticism sent from Holland was the criticism of a party. Besides that it turned out that he had omitted many important matters in the critical review written by Prins. The point at issue was that the very orthodox Sudhoff gave a highly biased description of the history and contemporary situation of Dutch Protestantism. Already in 1851 many people in Holland were angry about Abraham Capadose's report on the Netherlands at the meeting of the Evangelical Alliance in London. The orthodox agreed with what men like Capadose said in other countries, but followers of other parties in the Dutch protestant churches wanted a balanced and more appreciative judgement of their position. All parties were keen on an image matching their own viewpoints. The reason why they were doing so much to correct a negative image elsewhere was the interest in their identity. In 1860 all that thinking about identity led to two brilliant treatises on Dutch Protestantism in the nineteenth century: Chr. Sepp's Proeve eener pragmatische geschiedenis der Theologie hier te lande and D. Chantepie de la Saussaye's La Crise religieuse en Hollande.


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