Wessel, Johann

Wessel, Johann yōˈhän vĕsˈəl [key], c.1420–1489, Dutch theologian and precursor of the Protestant Reformation, also known as Wessel Harmenss Gansfort or Goesevoyrd. He was one of the Brethren of the Common Life, among whom he had his early instruction at Zwolle, although he rejected their narrowness of view. From c.1470 he lived in Paris, where he was known for his teachings. His later years (from 1479) were spent in Holland, partly in Groningen, partly near Zwolle, in the midst of friends and pupils. His writings belong to that period and are made up chiefly of short treatises. After his death his manuscripts were gathered together and sent to Martin Luther and Huldreich Zwingli. Luther edited his writings (c.1521). While he looked backward to Augustine and Bernard, Wessel also had views that prefigured the great Protestant Reformation in Germany. He regarded the Scriptures as the sole repository of truth and rejected the decrees of church councils, although he accepted papal authority.

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