« Arnold, Carl Franklin Arnold, Gottfried Arnold, Matthew »

Arnold, Gottfried

ARNOLD, GOTTFRIED: Lutheran; b. at Annaberg (18 m. s. of Chemnitz), Saxony, Sept. 5, 1688; d. at Perleberg (75 m. n.w. of Berlin), Prussia, May 30, 1714. In 1685 he began the study of theology at Wittenberg but gave himself up to independent reading in early church history. Through the influence of Spener, then court preacher at Dresden, he became tutor in a noble family of that city in 1689, and later obtained a similar position at Quedlinburg. There be became identified with the most prominent exponents of mystic and separatist teachings and in 1696 published Die erste Liebe (ed. A. C. Lämmert, Stuttgart, 1844), a eulogy on the early Christian Church in which his hostility to dogma and ecclesiasticism led him to exalt the virtues of the primitive Church as opposed to the formulism of later orthodoxy. In 1697 he became professor of history at Giessen, but found himself out of sympathy with the practical nature of his duties and returned in the following year to Quedlinburg. In 1699-1700 he published his Unparteiische Kirchen- und Ketzer-Historie (4 vols.; new ed., Frankfort, 1729), which had a marked influence on church history. In studying heretical movements Arnold refused to accept as authority the evidence of hostile contemporaries and draw upon the writings of the sectaries themselves for his materials. In view of his constitutional opposition to orthodox doctrine this method naturally led to his assuming a position extremely favorable to the separatists of various ages and 303occasioned a vigorous controversy which plunged him deeper still into mysticism. From this period date his beautiful religious songs, of which a number have found a place in the evangelical hymnal. In 1704 he became pastor and inspector at Werben, in Prussia, and from that time may be dated his reconciliation with established theology. In 1707 he became inspector at Perleberg, bringing to the performance of his duties the utmost devotion and energy. Besides his church history, his writings number more than fifty, among them, Geistliche Gestalt eines evangelischen Lehrers (Halle, 1704) and Wahre Abbildung des inwendigen Christenthums (Frankfort, 1709). His hymns were edited by K. C. E. Ehmann (Stuttgart, 1856).

(F. W. Dibelius.)

Bibliography: F. Dibelius, Gottfried Arnold, Berlin, 1873.

« Arnold, Carl Franklin Arnold, Gottfried Arnold, Matthew »
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