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Department of Printed Books: Halthasar Bekker: some recent additions

Anna E. C. Simoni

Abstract

In the 1978 Spring issue of this journal Dr. Hans Henning recalled that executions for witchcraft continued in Germany and Switzerland until 1782. If they came to an end then, and well before that date in England and some other countries, this is due in no small measure to Balthasar Bekker and his epoch-making book De betoverde weereld, first published at Leeuwarden and Amsterdam in 1691, 1693. It was translated into English in 1695 as The World Bewitched, into French as Le Monde enchante (1694), and into German as Die bezauherte Welt (c. 1695). It also caused a storm of controversy and cost Bekker his position as minister of the Dutch Reformed Church at Amsterdam - though without loss of income. Yet in the end his compassion for persecuted old women and his defence of God-given reason as a necessary part of religion, of equal importance with faith itself, carried the day.

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