The Correspondence of Johannes Coccejus (515 letters)

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Cultures of Knowledge

Portrait of Johannes Coccejus, by an unknown artist. Seventeenth century. (Museum Martena, Franeker; source of image: Wikimedia Commons)

Johannes Coccejus (1603–1669)

The Reformed theologian and philologist Johann Cock, or Coch, was born in the Hanseatic city of Bremen on 9 August 1603. His father, Timann Cock, served as clerk of the town council and his brother Gerhard, the elder by two years, became a jurist and diplomat who was involved in the negotiations surrounding the Peace of Westphalia. Educated in Bremen, Coccejus was influenced by the inaugural rector of the Gymnasium Illustre Matthias Martini (1572–1630) and by Ludwig Crocius (1586–1655). He was a student of Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Syriac; he read the Talmud, and he was instructed in Rabbinics.

In 1626, Coccejus moved to Franeker to study under Sixtinus Amama (1593–1629) and William Ames (1576–1633), and from 1630 he taught sacred philology first at Bremen’s Gymnasium Illustre and subsequently, from 1636, Hebrew and oriental languages at Franeker. On 5 August 1635 Coccejus married Catharina Deichmann, who was related to the Duisburg theologian Martin Hund. The couple had three daughters and a son, Johann Heinrich, who became editor of his father’s Opera Omnia.

Coccejus was appointed professor of theology at Franeker in 1643, where he taught alongside Johannes Maccovius (1588–1644) and Johannes Cloppenburg (1592–1652), and seven years later, in 1650, he became professor of theology at Leiden, a position made vacant by the death the previous year of Friedrich Spanheim the elder.

A prolific writer, Coccejus produced commentaries on all the biblical books, a Hebrew lexicon, and significant volumes on biblical theology. In Leiden, Coccejus elevated the Covenant theology imported by Martini to Bremen from Herborn into the more innovative of the two main theological schools in the golden era of Dutch Reformed theology, a school which many have seen as affiliated in some way with Cartesianism. These innovations embroiled him, unwillingly, in several conflicts with the head of the other school, the conservative theologian in Utrecht, Gisbertus Voetius, and his followers, particularly over the interpretation of the Fourth Commandment and the Sabbath and over the difference (or lack of difference) of salvation in the Old and the New Testament. Coccejus spent his remaining years in Leiden and died of plague in 1669 at the age of sixty-six. He was buried in the Pieterskerk.

Partners and Additional Contributors

The metadata for the beginnings of a calendar for the correspondence of Johannes Coccejus was inspired by the invaluable inventories compiled by Monika Estermann and Thomas Bürger (for further details, please see below). Cultures of Knowledge would like to thank EMLO Digital Fellow Charlotte Marique for her work to prepare the metadata for upload.

Key Bibliographic Source(s)

Thomas Bürger, ‘Verzeichnis der gedruckten Briefe deutscher Autoren des 17. Jahrhunderts’, part 2, 4 vols (Wiesbaden, 2002), vol. 1, p. 244.

Monika Estermann, Verzeichnis der gedruckten Briefe deutscher Autoren des 17. Jahrhunderts, part 1, 4 vols (Wiesbaden, 1992–3), vol. 1, pp. 273–86.

Theodor Wotschke, ‘Johann Coccejus’ Beziehungen zum Osten’, in ‘Deutsche Wissenschaftlliche Zeitschrift für Polen’, heft 33 (Poznań, 1937), pp. 77–88.


R. Neuhusii … epistolarum familiarium lib. 1 cui addita oratio inauguralis de recte informanda iuventute … (Amsterdam, 1639).

Reineri Neuhusi, … epistolarum familiarium centuriae tres. Cum libello posthumo poematum & epistolarum … Edonis Neuhusi, patris. …, 2 vols (Amsterdam, 1651–62).

Reineri Neuhusii … epistolarum familiarium centuriae quatuor, novae (Amsterdam, 1678).

Gerardi Joan. Vossii et clarorum virorum ad eum epistolae. Collectore Paulo Colomesio …, 2 vols (London, 1690), vol. 1.

Gerardi Joan. Vossii et clarorum virorum ad eum epistolae. Collectore Paulo Colomesio …, 2 vols (London, 1690), vol. 2.

Johannis Cocceji …, opera anekdota theologica et philologica, divisa in duo Volumina (Amsterdam, 1706), vol. 2, ‘Zwischentitel: Epistolarum sylloge. …’.

Sylloges epistolarum a viris illustribus scriptarum tomi quinque, collecti et digesti per Petrum Burmannum. …, 5 vols (Leiden, 1727), vol. 2.


Scope of Catalogue

The calendar contains the basic metadata for 515 letters collated from the a selection of epistolaries (for further details, please see the section on bibliography sources above). The letters span nearly half a century; the earliest letter, dated October 1629, is to Daniel Heinsius and the latest cluster of letters is from October 1669, just one month before Coccejus’s death.

It is hoped that scholars may be encouraged to contribute additional metadata to this calendar. For enquiries regarding contributions, please contact EMLO’s editor, Miranda Lewis.

Further resources


Willem J. van Asselt, The Federal Theology of Johannes Cocceius (1603–1669) (Leiden: Brill, 2001).

Willem J. van Asselt, ‘Amicitia Dei as Ultimate Reality: An Outline of the Covenant Theology of Johannes Cocceius (16031669)’, Ultimate Reality and Meaning, 21 (1998), pp. 35–47.


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