English Puritan Literature in the Swedish Realm in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries – translation phases

Tuija Laine


As early as the first decades of the seventeenth century, English devotional literature began to proliferate in the Kingdom of Sweden. This literature was mainly Low Church in nature, primarily written by the English Puritans, whose conservatism facilitated the acceptance of these books in Sweden. Despite its Reformed influence, Puritan literary production was often more Lutheran than then the High Church Anglican literature that still exhibited many Catholic features.

The content of devotional books that found their way to the Kingdom of Sweden through the Netherlands as well as Reformed and Lutheran areas in Germany was constantly rearranged by purging the text of Reformed influences. The earliest Swedish editions passed the censors in the Stockholm Consistory without difficulty, even if times were turbulent because of the Thirty Years' War. Attempts to publish Swedish editions of English devotional books in the 1690s, however, encountered strong opposition. Fears and fantasies substantially affected attitudes towards English devotional literature and printing permissions. Whenever Calvinism, Pietism, or the Moravians were perceived as a dangerous threat to national unity and the Lutheran faith, attitudes towards English devotional literature became more rigid; whenever this perceived menace receded, the censorship authorities could afford to be more indulgent.

The mass production of Swedish editions began in the 1720s, which was soon reflected in the reception of English devotional literature in Finland. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Swedish editions had changed their profile; a concern with dogma gave way to a growing interest in practical issues such as the education of children and romantically picturesque garden design.


Puritanism, English devotional literature, Finland, Early Modern times

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Editoral board

Willem J. op ’t Hof, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (co-editor)

Jan van de Kamp, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (co-editor)

Ryan McGraw, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Taylors, SC (editor)

Book review editors

Urban Claesson, Church of Sweden, Research department, Uppsala (for books from European publishers)

Randall Pederson, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA (for books from non-European publishers)


Editorial assistant

Thomas Bakker, VU University Amsterdam

Advisory Board

Andreas J. Beck, Evangelical Theological Faculty Leuven

Veronika Albrecht-Birkner, University of Siegen

Joel R. Beeke, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Philip Benedict, University of Geneva

Francis J. Bremer, Millersville University, Pennsylvania

John Coffey, University of Leicester

Michael A.G. Haykin, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

Tuija Laine, University of Helsinki

Fred A. van Lieburg, VU University Amsterdam

Anthony Milton, The University of Sheffield

Richard A. Muller, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Éva Petröczi, Károli Gáspár University of the Hungarian Reformed Church, Budapest

Martin Sallmann, University of Bern

Hans-Jürgen Schrader, University of Geneva



ISSN: 2405-755X



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