Jacob Koelman On Thomas Hooker’s The Soules Humiliation -- By: Pieter L. Rouwendal

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 02:2 (Jul 2010)
Article: Jacob Koelman On Thomas Hooker’s The Soules Humiliation
Author: Pieter L. Rouwendal


Jacob Koelman On Thomas Hooker’s The Soules Humiliation

Pieter L. Rouwendal

In 1678, Jacob Koelman (1631-1695) published a Dutch translation of Thomas Hooker’s The Soules Humiliation with the Dutch title Ziels-vernedering en heylzame wanhoop (Humiliation of the Soul and Wholesome Desperation).1 He added his own preface, praising Hooker and The Soules Humiliation while making extended criticism of “a remarkable error” in this work as well as in two works penned by Hooker’s son-in-law, Thomas Shepard.2 This article will review Koelman’s remarkable preface. Who was Jacob Koelman? Why did he decide to translate Hooker’s work? What was his criticism of Hooker? And why did he choose to add his own criticism of Hooker to his translation of The Soules Humiliation?3

Reformer And Translator

Jacob Koelman was baptized on November 23, 1631, at Utrecht.4 He began studies at the University of Utrecht in 1649 and, in 1655,

received his Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees. Afterwards, he regretted that there he had interacted too much with “idle and foolish questions” of philosophy. Yet he profited from his philosophical knowledge later in life, when he refuted Wolzogen, Cartesius, and Spinoza. During his student years, Koelman also learned English in order to read Puritan writings. Even as a student, he started to translate Puritan works into Dutch.

Koelman next occupied the post of preacher at the Dutch embassies in Denmark and later in Brussels. In 1662, he was ordained as the third preacher at Sluis in Flanders, a city governed by the Dutch State.5 It was here that Koelman showed allegiance to the Dutch Further Reformation (“Nadere Reformatie”), a movement in the Dutch Reformed Church aimed at a reformation not only of church and doctrine, but also of individual lives, whole cities, and even the entire nation.6 Its proponents frequently sought support from the Dutch State or from the local government. On its part, the government exerted substantial influence on the church, as, for instance, in the calling of new pastors. These mutual efforts of church and state to influence each other had disastrous effects in Koelman’s case, as will soon be seen.

Koelman tried to persuade the local government of Sluis to reform the city according to God’s Word and especially to restrain common sin...

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