Theologia Deutsch

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Theologia Deutsch, the original name for the book described in the article Deutsche Theologie. The statement of that article that the book was written ca. 1500 by Berthold Pirstinger has not been generally accepted by scholars, the majority of whom still hold that it was written ca. 1400 by an unknown member of the Teutonic Order at Frankfurt.

The most recent research shows that a number of Anabaptists were familiar with the book and some even quoted from it. According to Kiwiet, Hans Denck took over from the Theologia Deutsch the term "Ordnung Gottes," which he discussed extensively in two of his writings: Was geredt sey and Ordnung Gottes und der Creaturen Werk, although he reinterpreted the content of the concept. It is possible that similarities of phrase and thought found in both Thomas Müntzer and Hans Denck may be due to the use of a common source, i.e., the Theologia Deutsch, instead of through direct influence of Müntzer's writings upon Denck. In an epistle in the Kunstbuch (#30) Leupold Scharnschlager refers to Theologia Deutsch and Imitation of Christ as writting of "Gelassenheit." He is probably the source of the four or five references to Theologia Deutsch in the second half of Pilgram Marpeck's Verantwortung.

The 16th-century Hutterites also knew and used the Theologia Deutsch. It is quoted under the title Theologia Germanica twice in Peter Walpot's article "Concerning True Surrender and True Community of Goods," written about 1577, published in English translation in Mennonite Quarterly Review XXXI (1957): 59, 62.

Kiwiet holds that the Theologia Deutsch, although first rated highly by Luther (to ca. 1523), soon became a book of the "outsiders" (his opponents), i.e., of the Anabaptists, Schwenckfelders, and the later Pietists, and "became a very beloved booklet for many Anabaptists and Anabaptist leaders, especially among the South Germans and the Hutterites." He says that the Theologia Deutsch is not basically a mystical book, but an anti-mystical writing, which insists upon Christian discipleship in life rather than a concentration on inner bliss. The full significance and influence of the Theologia Deutsch for Anabaptist doctrine and history remains to be much more fully explored.

The latest English edition with introduction is to be found in Late Medieval Mysticism (Vol. XIII of the Library of Christian Classics, ed. Ray C. Petty, Philadelphia, 1957): 327-51.


Baring, G. "Neues von der 'Theologia Deutsch' und ihrer weltweiten Bedeutung." Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte XLVIII, 2 (1957): 1-10.

Kiwiet, J. "Die Theologia Deutsch und ihre Bedeutung während der Zeit der Reformation." Mennonitische Geschichtsblätter XV (1958): 29-35.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Theologia Deutsch." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 13 Jul 2024.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Theologia Deutsch. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 July 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 704, 1148. All rights reserved.

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