Johann Crell's father, Johann Crell Sr., was pastor of the church at Hellmitzheim, (today part of Iphofen in Kitzingen District), in Franken, northern Bavaria. His son Krzysztof Crell-Spinowski (1622–1680), and his grandsons Christopher Crell Jr. M.D. of London (1658-), Samuel Crellius (1660–1747) and Paweł Crell-Spinowski (1677-), as well as his great-grandsons in Georgia, United States, were all proponents of Socinian views.
Crellius moved to Poland at the age of 22, and quickly became known as one of the chief theologians of the Socinians, also known as Polish brethren. From 1613 he worked at the Racovian Academy at Raków, of which he was the rector from 1616 to 1621. In 1630 he worked with Joachim Stegmann Sr. in the production of a German version of the Racovian New Testament.
Several of Crell's works were printed first by Rodecki and Sternacki at the printery of the Racovian Academy 1602-1638. These and others then appeared as Vol.III-V of Frans Kuyper's Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum quos Unitarios vocant ("Library of the Polish Brethren called Unitarians") Amsterdam 1668 Crell also featured in Christopher Sand's bibliography and biographical collection Bibliotheca antitrinitariorum (1684). These works were widely distributed being owned by Voltaire, John Locke and other Enlightenment thinkers.
Two of Crell's works were translated into English: two were published in London and the third in Konigsburg. These works are: A learned and exceeding well-complied Vindication of Liberty of Religion (London: 1646), The two Books...touching on God the Father. Wherein many things also concerning the Nature of the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit are discoursed of... (Konigsburg: 1665). Finally, the 1665 work was published again in 1691: it was an identical edition with the exception of the title page, and it was called The Unity of God asserted and defended (London: 1665).
Since Crell was not translated into English, knowledge of his works passed out of the later generations of English Unitarians. However Thomas Belsham is one of the Unitarian authors who had access to Crell in the Latin and Belsham repeatedly cites Crell in his The Epistles of Paul the Apostle Translated, with an Exposition, and Notes (1822).
- 1623 Ad librum Hugonis Grotii quem de satisfactione Christi... - on Grotius.
- 1630 De Deo et eius attributis... - on God and his attributes.
- 1631 De uno Deo Patre libri duo - translated into English as The Two Books of John Crellius Francus on One God the Father
- 1635 Prima ethices elementa - on the elements of ethics.
- 1637 C. Vindiciae pro religionis liberate - on the freedom of conscience.
- 1665 His works were published first (before Vol.I-II) as part of the series Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum by Frans Kuyper in Amsterdam.
- A learned and exceeding well-compiled vindication of liberty of religion by Johann Crell
- De la tolérance dans la religion ou de la liberté de conscience. Par Crellius. L'intolérance convaincue de crime et de folie. Ouvrage traduit de l'anglois. (French Edition)
- Hermann Cingallus Scriptura S. Trinitatis Revelatrix (Gouda 1678) attributed by John Locke to Crell but Robert Wallace (Unitarian) reattributes to Christopher Sandius
- Icander Das fast auf dem höchsten Gipfel der Vollkommenheit prangende Dresden, 1726 - a work by a Swedish architect on baroque Dresden with no connection to Socinianism, (cataloguing error by web-based reprint houses)
- Henry Hallam Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries 2005 p417 "Crellius was, perhaps, the most eminent of the Racovian school in this century"
- (not 1656 as incorrectly listed in some catalogues)
- Sarah Mortimer Reason and Religion in the English Revolution: The Challenge of Socinianism (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History) 2010
- Jasnowski, 61
Jasnowski, Józef. "A Tentative Bibliography of Non-Literary Works of Polish Authors Translated into English (1560-1918)." The Polish Review 16, no. 4 (1971): 58-76.
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