Friday, October 19, 2012

Paul Grebner

As I've been working on "Wilhelm Friess," I've come across several references to the prophecies of Paul Grebner, who would appear to be something of a contemporary of the Friess prophecies and also ideologically compatible with them, at least to a degree. But Friess and Grebner seem to follow much different paths. Friess, for one, is a pseudonym attached to two or more texts; Grebner is real enough to merit a biography in ADB. Almost all editions of the (supposedly Dutch) Friess prophecies were printed in Germany in the sixteenth century, while almost all of the prophecies attributed to the German Grebner are published posthumously in the seventeenth century, and outside Germany, first in the Netherlands and then very broadly in Britain. Friess eventually faded into obscurity, while excerpts of Grebner were still being printed at least as late as 1793.

Grebner remains a bibliographic and historical puzzle. Apart from the ADB biography, one finds many brief references to Grebner, but few treatments of any extent. The one exception appears to be:

Åkerman, Susanna. “The Myth of the Lion of the North and its Origins in Paul Grebner’s Visions.” In Cultura Baltica: Literary Culture around the Baltic 1600-1700, edited by Bo Andersson and Richard Erich Schade, 23–43. Uppsala: Uppsala University, 1996.

Even tracking down Grebner's works is tricky, as his name is recorded in numerous forms, including Grebner, Gribner, or simply "Paulus Secundus" or "Paulus Iunior" (not to mention "Ezekiel Grebner, Son of Obadiah Grebner, Son of Paul Grebner"). There's a need for more work connecting Grebner's earliest published works in the 1560s to the manuscripts of the 1580s to the earliest pamphlets of the 1590s and early 1600s to their diffusion across Europe during the rest of the seventeenth century.

But it won't happen today. I still need to finish work on my SCSC conference paper, and posting may be sporadic for the next several weeks.

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