Talk:Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg

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Historical Accuracy

Reinstated material concering persecution by Hindu authorities and charges on which Ziegenbalg was jailed in 1708-09. Material is a matter of historical fact and should not have been deleted for supposed lack of evidence. Added citation to Festivals and commemorations : handbook to the calendar in Lutheran book of worship by Philip H. Pfatteicher.

jackturner3 14:05, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Well, provide the evidence then! Which "Hindu authorities" persecuted Ziegenbalg? There were no Hindu authorities in a position to do so in Tranquebar. Ziegenbalg complained mightily about persecution, but only at the hands of the Danish commandant Hassius. He says nothing in any of his letters about persecution by Hindus. To suggest that he was persecuted by Hindus is hagiography, not history.
Nor was he imprisoned for inciting insurrection. Ziegenbalg was imprisoned because he refused to answer questions when arrested. His arrest was probably the result of rivalries between Ziegenbalg and the Catholic clergy in Tranquebar - they may have accused him of inciting insurrection, but that wasn't the reason the commandant gave for imprisoning him. See Anders Nørgaard, Mission und Obrigkeit: Die Dänisch-hallische Mission in Tranquebar, 1706-1845 (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus/Gerd Mohn, 1988) and Ulla Sandgren, The Tamil New Testament and Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg: A Short Study of Some Tamil Translations of the New Testament. The Imprisonment of Ziegenbalg 19.11.1708-26.3.1709 (Uppsala: Svenska institutet för missionsforskning, 1991).
Jaz321 20:25, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
If you feel the comment about “inciting insurrection” is off, then reword it to how you think it is most accurate; as you admit, some individuals felt it sufficient to charge him with insurrection even if that's not why he was ultimately imprisioned. Aside from that, I would ask that you provide evidence that he was not persecuted by the local Hindu population before simply saying that it didn’t happen. You can’t just dismiss something as hagiography based on your own conclusions about lack of complaint in personal letters.
jackturner3 16:02, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
Pfatteicher's book is not available to me, so I can't assess whatever evidence he offers (although I'd be interested to see it). There is, however, virtually no other evidence for Ziegenbalg's life than his own letters - if they don't refer to persecution (and as far as I can see they don't), then I feel the burden of proof is on those who think he was persecuted. It is of course hard to prove a negative, but take this as at least some evidence to the contrary - from a letter dated 22.9.1707:
Mit den Heiden und Mohammedanern haben wir uns gar wohl vertragen können, und sie gar gerne um uns sein mögen, unerachtet, daß wir sie stets ihres Aberglaubens und Abgötterei bestraft haben, aber von den evangelischen Christen haben wir fast lauter Feindschaft gehabt.
and in a contemporary (if not entirely faithful) translation:
Heathens and Mahometans are kind enough to us, and love to be in our Company; notwithstanding we have all along laid open to them the Vanity of their idolatrous and superstitious Worship. But those that pretend to be Christians, and are worse than Heathens at the Bottom [Ziegenbalg writes simply "evangelical", i.e. Protestant, Christians], have shewn us all the Spite and Malice they ever cou’d.
Arno Lehmann, Alte Briefe aus Indien: unveröffentlichte Briefe von Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg 1706-1719. Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1957: 60.
Anton Böhme, Propagation of the Gospel in the East. Part I. 2nd ed. London, 1711: 73.
Ziegenbalg's relationship with other Christians in Tranquebar, and the reasons for his imprisonment, are complex issues. My problem with what the article currently says about his imprisonment is that it suggests the lone missionary hero upset everyone by converting so many Indians that other Europeans worried about insurrection. The impression thereby created is very far from the reality of the matter - which is that Ziegenbalg's imprisonment arose from far less noble causes. Other aspects of the article are also misleading - again, I suspect, as a result of trying to write Ziegenbalg's life to fit the standard saintly/missionary mould. The reference to opposition and/or persecution by Hindus is part of this - it suggests that he was so successful that he managed to arouse opposition, but that he bravely "labored" on "intensively" anyway. Another example: Ziegenbalg's health was indeed poor throughout his life, but by his own report it actually improved in India. The reasons for his "reposing" (interesting language, btw) have been attributed by some mission historians to the stresses arising from disputes with other Christians, not to his noble labours in a harsh foreign field (as is suggested by the previous sentence about his health).
Can we call this hagiography yet? And--most important--can we drop the line about Hindu opposition/persecution? The only sense in which the Hindus opposed him is that they (mostly) declined to convert. In the current climate of debate on missionary activities in India I think this sentence is unfortunate.
Jaz321 21:57, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
I hardly think that what I am attempting to portray is the ideal of the “lone missionary” who converted the masses. If you’ll note, I even state that he only converted 250 Indians during his missionary work, quite a sum for an individual, but hardly masses. If you are interested in Pfatteicher's book, you might be able to request it through loan at your local public library. That’s how I got a hold of the book since it is long since out of print.
Furthermore, if the issues involved in his imprisonment are as complex as you claim (and there is probably no doubting that they are complex), as I stated earlier, reword (or in this case) expand the section about his imprisonment to reflect this. Don’t just say on the discussion page that the issue is complex, lay out the complexities in the article so that all can read and understand them. I am certainly not opposed to adding additional information.
In so far as the comment about persecution, it may well be that Ziegenbalg experienced a wide range relations with the local population, oscillating on extremes from persecution to acceptance. Or it may have been he is simply attempting to make a point about other Christians in the area for opposing his work; he may have used the comment as a way of saying that as bad as the non-Christians are about opposing my work, the so-called Christians are worse, so much worse that in fact they make the non-Christians look friendly. I don’t know the real answer on either point, but I’m not convinced sufficiently convinced that no persecution or opposition at the hands of locals took place for me to want to drop the statement altogether. Regardless of how unfortunate such a statement may be in light of current controversies over missions in India, if it happened, then it happened, and no amount of regret or desire to smooth over current disputes will change that.
My two cents, for what it’s worth.
jackturner3 14:25, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
Again: what evidence is there that Ziegenbalg experienced persecution? Certainly some missionaries were persecuted in 18th century South India (mainly Catholics who worked beyond the bounds of European enclaves) and I have no wish to deny that. Where we have evidence of things we would prefer not to have happened, we cannot avoid facing up to them. But if you cannot provide any evidence that Ziegenbalg was persecuted by Hindus, then why are you so convinced that he was? If your source is Pfatteicher, then at least indicate what evidence he cites. If he cites none, then I am not inclined to accept his sheer assertion. I believe this is in line with the policy on verifiability and citing sources.
Jaz321 11:32, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
In the interest of full disclosure, I can't tell you what Pfatteicher cites as evidence at this particular moment because I don't have his book in front of me. I will request it again and see what evidence he cites for his assertions and return to discussion at that time. Nevertheless, I still don't think its appropriate to remove the comment about persecution because, as you say, it's difficult to prove a negative. 13:37, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Okay, I appreciate that. As I said, I'd be interested to see what evidence Pfatteicher cites. But note that you're not being asked to prove a negative. You're being asked to provide evidence for a positive claim: that Ziegenbalg was persecuted by Hindus. You asked me to prove a negative: that he wasn't. If I asserted that Ziegenbalg had a special love of strong blue cheese, you could reasonably require me to provide evidence before allowing the statement to stand. I could not reasonably reply that because I hadn't seen evidence to the contrary, I was free to assert that Z loved strong blue cheese - because the burden of proof would lie with me (see the policy on verifiability which reads 'The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material.') But I won't revert the statement until I see what evidence Pfatteicher offers. Note, however, that neither Ziegenbalg's biographer (Beyreuther) nor the main historians of the mission (Fenger, Lehmann) mention persecution.
Jaz321 18:35, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Brijraj Singh also wrote a biography of Ziegenbalg, The First Protestant Missionary to India, "By and large, the people of Tranquebar took to Ziegenbalg as readily and gladly as he took to them." Singh added a footnote to that saying that:

Dr. Jeyaraj told me, in the course of a discussion at Madras, that he has seen unpublished archival material, including secret reports from Hassius and the Roman Catholic priest at Tranquebar, that suggest that Ziegenbalg's relations with Hindus were not as smooth as his writings suggest and that he had altercations with several people. (21)

Unless and until we can firm up something like these shadowy unpublished sources Jeyaraj hinted at, may we go with the compromise I suggested below? burnunit 23:59, 18 February 2007 (UTC)
Added short paragraph detailing one point of contention w/local Hindu populace, however, evidence (Beyreuther, for example) suggests that general response by Indians was favorable and Ziegenbalg only got into trouble when he started criticizing some Brahmins, though it was not all Brahmins who reacted to him thus and the reaction is less "persecution of his beliefs" per se and more "plot on his life for his attack on our power", which I suppose is a fine line. I just don't think it's accurate to picture it as Z being the passive victim of persecution. I have access to the Pfatteicher source as well as several Ziegenbalg documents in translation and I'll comb through those to add more substance as I have time. burnunit 23:49, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
Possible source: [Book about the indian christians by La Croze] in french, there is also a german translation oft his book. Ziegebalg is treated in the book.--Giftzwerg 88 (talk) 11:03, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Relationship with Ernst Rietschel and Gottlieb Fichte[edit]

It's written "Through his father he was related to the sculptor Ernst Friedrich August Rietschel, and through his mother's side to the philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte". Because more then century lies between the birthdays of the 3 men (Ziegenbalg: 1682; Fichte: 1762; Rietschel: 1804) , it's ridiculous to call them relatives. They never meet and there are several generations between them. Best regards, -- (talk) 11:26, 26 September 2013 (UTC)