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Gerhard of Zutphen

Mystical writer, b. 1367; d. 1398

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Gerhard of Zutphen (ZERBOLT OF ZUTPHEN); b. at Zutphen, 1367; d. at Windesheim, 1398; a mystical writer and one of the first of the Brothers of the Common Life, founded by Gerhard Groote and Florentius Radewyn at Deventer, in the Netherlands. Even in that community of “plain living and high thinking” Gerhard was remarkable for his absorption in the sacred sciences and his utter oblivion of all matters of merely earthly interest. He held the office of librarian, and his deep learning in moral theology and canon law did the brothers good service, in helping them to meet the prejudice and opposition which their manner of life at first aroused. His best known works are entitled “Homo quidam” and “Beatus vir”; the two are almost identical (de la Bigne, Bibliotheca Patrum, XXVI). Two other treatises on prayer in the mother-tongue and on reading the Scripture in the mothertongue are attributed to him (Ullmann, Reformatoren vor der Reformation; and Hirsche in Herzog’s Realencyklopadie, 2nd ed.). Ullmann and other controversialists have used Gerhard of Zutphen’s zeal for propagating the vernacular Scriptures as proof to connect the Brothers of the Common Life with the German Reformers; but an examination of Gerhard’s arguments, as quoted by them, reveals with how little foundation.

VINCENT SCULLY


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