Johann Heinrich Alsted

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Johann Heinrich Alsted

Johann Heinrich Alsted (also Johann Heinrich Alstedt ; * mid-March 1588 in Ballersbach near Herborn ; † November 9, 1638 in Weißenburg , Transylvania ) was a German Reformed theologian , philosopher , pedagogue and polyhistor .


Johann Heinrich Alsted was a son of the pastor Jakob Alsted († 1622) and his wife, Rebekka geb. Pincier from weather, used Mehrius.

After attending the education department , Alsted studied at the High School in Herborn . From 1608 he worked as a pedagogue researcher and preceptor of the first class at the Herborn Pedagogy. From 1610 to 1619 he was professor of philosophy at the High School in Herborn. In 1618 Alsted was sent to the Dordrecht National Synod (1618/19) by Count Johann VII as a member of the Wetterau Counts Association , which is to be regarded as a special honor. From 1619 he was professor of theology in Herborn. The widowed professor married Anne Katharina Corvinus from Herborn († 1648) in 1625.

At the request of the Prince of Transylvania, Gábor Bethlen , Alsted and Johann Heinrich Bisterfeld went to the academy he had founded in Weißenburg in Transylvania in the summer of 1629 , where each of them got a professorship. Alsted taught theology there until his death. He found his final resting place in the castle church of Weißenburg - next to Johann Heinrich Bisterfeld and Philipp Ludwig Piscator .

His daughter from his first marriage, Susanna, married his younger colleague Bisterfeld in 1629.


Alsted was an important encyclopedia . Among other things, he summarized the Reformed theology of his time in a series of textbooks.

The most cited thinkers at Alsted include Ramon Llull , Francisco Suárez , Pedro da Fonseca , Julius Caesar Scaliger, and Jacopo Zabarella .

Alsted was the author of famous encyclopedic works in the field of philosophy and theology, of far-reaching influence on both disciplines and in particular on education through his student Johann Amos Comenius .

On the basis of Reformed federal theology, he links and differentiates between “ foedus naturae” and “foedus gratiae” and, accordingly, “lex” and “evangelium”, philosophy and theology, reason and revelation. What is striking about Alsted is the chiliasm . Today he is the namesake of the Johann Heinrich Alsted School located in Mittenaar-Bicken .

Alsted had been in correspondence with the universal scholar Wilhelm Schickard since March 1624 . The initially academic exchange also took on a personal character after Alsted's daughter married Schickard's distant relative, Johann Heinrich Bisterfeld.

Works (selection)

Newer editions

  • Johann Heinrich Alsted: Encyclopaedia. Facsimile reprint of the Herborn 1630 edition with a foreword by Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann and a bibliography by Jörg Jungmayr , 7 in 4 volumes, Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog 1989 (volumes 1 and 2), 1990 (volumes 3 and 4), ISBN 3 -7728-0954-5
  • Johann Heinrich Alsted: Clavis artis Lullianae, reprint of the Strasbourg edition, [Zetzner], 1609 , Hildesheim: Olms 1983, ISBN 3-487-07309-9

Individual evidence

  1. Willem van Irhoven (ed.): Canones Synodi nationalis Dordracenae, ofte Oordeel des Synodi nationalis der Gereformeerde Kercken van de Vereenigde Nederlanden: ghehouden in Dordrecht, inden jare 1618 end 1619 . J. H. Vonk van Lynden, Utrecht 1752, pp. 24, 41, 69 and 96 ( Google Books ).
  2. Horst Schmid-Schickhardt: The Siegener Schickhardt family ... , p. 30
  3. Horst Schmid-Schickhardt: The Siegener Schickhardt family ... , p. 31
  4. Siegfried Wollgast: Philosophy in Germany between Reformation and Enlightenment, 1550–1650 , Berlin 1993 , p. 191
  5. Gerhard Collinet: Nothing works without a horse . In: “Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung”, December 18, 2013, p. 27
  6. Horst Schmid-Schickhardt: Die Siegener Familie Schickhardt ... , p. 40, see also: Friedrich Seck (Ed.): Wilhelm Schickhard - Briefwechsel , Stuttgart 2002


  • Horst Schmid-Schickhardt : The Siegener Schickhardt family in the 15th to 17th centuries. Attempt of a partial genealogy , Baden-Baden: Schmid-Schickhardt 2008
  • Horst Schmid-Schickhardt: Schickhardt - Ravensberger - Bisterfeld - Alsted. Relationships between four important Nassau families . In: “Siegerland” 2003, pp. 123–127
  • Howard Hotson: Johann Heinrich Alsted 1588-1638. Between Renaissance, Reformation, and universal reform , Clarendon Press, Oxford 2000, ISBN 0-19-820828-6
  • Howard Hotson: Paradise postponed: Johann Heinrich Alsted and the birth of Calvinist millenarianism , Kluwer, Dordrecht 2000, ISBN 0-7923-6787-1
  • Otto WeberAlsted, Johann Heinrich. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 1, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1953, ISBN 3-428-00182-6 , p. 206 ( digitized version ).
  • Maria Rosa Antognazza (Ed.): Alsted and Leibniz on God, the magistrate, and the millenium . Texts ed. With introduction and commentary by Maria Rosa Antognazza and Howard Hotson, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1999, ISBN 3-447-04130-7 (Engl./lat.)
  • Otto Renkhoff: Nassauische Biographie , Wiesbaden, 1992, p. 10
  • Jürgen Klein; Johannes Kramer (ed.): Johann Heinrich Alsted, Herborn's Calvinistic theology and science in the mirror of the English cultural reform of the early 17th century. Studies on English-German intellectual relationships in the early modern period , Frankfurt am Main: Lang 1988, ISBN 3-8204-9759-5
  • Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann : Apocalyptic universal science. Johann Heinrich Alsted's “Diatribe de mille annis apocalypticis” . In: Pietism and Modern Times. Volume 14, Chiliasmus in Germany and England in the 17th Century , 1988
  • Rüdiger Störkel: Education for Europe. The Encyclopedia of Johann Heinrich Alsted from 1630 . Herborn contributions, ed. from the Theological Seminar Herborn, special volume 1, LIT Berlin / Münster, 2019
  • Gerhard Menk: The Herborn High School in its early days (1584–1660). A contribution to the higher education system of German Calvinism in the age of the Counter Reformation , Wiesbaden 1981
  • Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann: Johann Heinrich Alsted . In: Die Deutsche Literatur , Series II, Vol. 2, Bern / Frankfurt / New York, pp. 225–228
  • Walter Michel: The Herborn philosopher Johann Heinrich Alsted and the tradition , dissertation at the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Frankfurt a. M., 1969
  • Heinrich HeppeAlsted, Johann Heinrich . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 1, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1875, p. 354 f.

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