Imitation of Christ, The

Imitation of Christ, The,

Christian devotional book, of great popularity. It originated among the Brothers of the Common Life in the Netherlands and was written probably c.1425. Tradition (since c.1445) has ascribed it to Thomas à KempisThomas à Kempis
, b. 1379 or 1380, d. 1471, German monk, traditional author of The Imitation of Christ, b. Kempen, Germany. He was schooled at Deventer, in the Netherlands, the center of the Brothers of the Common Life founded by Gerard Groote.
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, whose name appears on an early Latin manuscript. A popular contemporary theory holds that Thomas copied out and edited The Imitation from manuscripts originating with Gerard GrooteGroote, Gerard or Geert
, 1340–84, Dutch Roman Catholic reformer. He studied at Paris and elsewhere and because of his learning in theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, and medicine, he was appointed professor at
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. The work encourages a life of mystical devotion to Christ and a distrust of the human intellect. The four books treat liberation from worldly inclinations, recollection as a preparation for prayer, the consolations of prayer, and the place of eucharistic communion in a devout life. The work is a summary of the spirit of Groote's movement, the devotio moderna. The English translation by Richard Whitford (c.1530) has long been standard. It has been revised into modern English (Harold Gardiner, ed., 1955). The Imitation has also been rendered as The Following of Christ (tr. 1941).


See J. E. G. De Montmorency, Thomas à Kempis: His Age and Book (1906, repr. 1970).

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In his great inspirational journal The Imitation of Christ, the Augustinian monk, Thomas a Kempis, warns: "To many this seems a hard saying: 'Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me" But it will be much harder to hear the final word: 'Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire"
The personal identification Jimmy Carter has with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit permeates this manifesto, reminiscent in places of The Imitation of Christ, the 15-century work of Thomas a Kempis.
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