Wesley at Aldersgate and the discovery of a German New Testament

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Abstract

The Recent discovery of a 1720 edition of Luther's German New Testament in which the books of the New Testament follow on from Luther's Preface to the Book of Romans, invites another look at the accepted version of what happened at Aldersgate Street on 24 May 1738, the night Wesley's heart was 'strangely warmed.' The accepted belief that William Holland was the reader, and that the William Wilkerson [WW} English version (1594 04 1634) of Martin Luther's Preface was read that night follows from Holland's association with the Wesleys, and the assumption that the WW version was the only version available in English. A careful examination shows that this is a speculative reconstruction of what happened that night without any evidence to support it. It is shown that the WW English version understood to have been read that night was exceedingly rare in Hanoverian England. However, there were many German Pietists for whom the Luther German New Testament was the preferred version of the scriptures. Evidence is given to show that on 24 May 1738 Wesley attended a German religious society at Aldersgate Street, and there heard Luther's Preface read in German.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-91
Number of pages25
JournalAldersgate Papers
Volume9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

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