Sebastian Franck

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Franck, Sebastian


Born Jan. 20, 1499, in Donauwörth; died 1542 or 1543, in Basel. German humanist, philosopher, and historian. Figure in the radical-burgher wing of the Reformation.

In 1528, Franck, a Lutheran pastor, resigned his pastorate and joined the Anabaptists. During the reactionary period that followed the Peasant War of 1524–26, Franck developed a profound sympathy for the common people. He was subjected to continual persecution by both the Catholic and Lutheran camps. Franck first expounded his historical-philosophical views in detail in Chronica: Time Book and Historical Bible (1531). He followed this with other works, including Cosmography (1533), German Chronicle (1538), and Wise Sayings (1541). His views, often contradictory, reflected the influence of German pantheistic mysticism (J Eckhart and J. Tauler), humanist rationalism, and the experience of the Peasant War and the Reformation. Franck opposed religious dogma and any type of church organization, advancing instead the tenets of the “inner word” and “Christ within us.” He offered a generalized picture of the historical development of mankind, and he viewed private property, by which he meant feudal property, as the source of all human misery. He attacked the tyranny of the clergy, princes, and nobles and sought to prove the inevitability of the fall of the powerful, although he was against popular uprisings. Franck exerted a substantial influence on various schools of thought in the post-Reformation era.


Leven, V. G. “Istoricheskie vzgliady Sebast’iana Franka.” In Srednie Veka. fasc. 6. Moscow, 1955.
Leven, V. G. “Filosofskie vozzreniia Sebast’iana Franka.” Voprosy filosofii, 1958, no. 10.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Among their topics are the mystics the Protestants read, Martin Luther, Sebastian Franck, John Calvin, Johann Arndt, and Willian Teellinck and Gisertus Voetius.
Indeed, the same could be said of Sebastian Franck's Chronica, Zeytbuch vnd geschycht bibel (1531), published within a decade of Muntzer's death.
Although, in an illuminating last chapter, he explores the inspiration drawn from Erasmus by literary figures such as Rabelais, Cervantes, Jonson, and Shakespeare, most of his subjects are radical reformers such as Sebastian Franck, Fausto and Lelio Sozzini, and Daniel Zwicker, who often went well beyond Luther and Calvin in their Protestantism.
In particular, Bietenholz examines Sebastian Franck's theological reading of Erasmus to highlight challenges to traditional interpretations in Erasmus's works.
Similarly parallel texts appear in the Naturliche Auslegung von der Schopfung and the Viererlei Auslegung von der Schopfung: Pfefferl notes the difficulty of ascribing authorship to parts of the latter work, offering an attribution of different sections of the work to Weigel and an unknown "compiler." Pfefferl comments on the influences exhibited in the different works: Weigel drew on Paracelsian and pseudo-Paracelsian works; he was influenced by the mysticism of Meister Eckhardt, Johannes Tauler, and the Theologica Deutsch; he knows Pseudo-Dionysius, Boethius, Martin Luther, Hugh of St Viktor, Sebastian Franck.
The Great Chronicle of the Hutterites and the universal Chronica, Zeitbuch unnd Geschichtbibel (Frankfurt-am-Main, 1555) of Sebastian Franck both pursue their historical vision coherently over extended periods.
Emmet McLaughlin offers a subtle revisionist reading of the relationship between the thinking of the Wittenberg reformer and the radical spiritualist writers such as Thomas Muntzer, Caspar Schwenckfeld and Sebastian Franck whom Luther overtly repudiated, arguing that it was he rather than they who forged a revolutionary conception of the workings of the Holy Spirit.
Thus without the prefaces to the collections of fables and proverbs by Luther, Johannes Agricola, and Sebastian Franck there would be no contemporary theory of these two genres.
A more positive attitude is found in the Radical Protestant views of Hans Denck and Sebastian Franck, who, according to E.
It was Spiritualists such as Sebastian Franck and Caspar Schwenckfeld, Dipple claims, who wrote the most complicated histories using patristic authors.
Finally, we come to "religious Hermeticism," encountering Sebastian Franck, Philippe de Mornay, and the Occulta Philosophia attributed to Basilius Valentinus.