Amos Comenius,                                        Painting by Juriaen Ovens  (1658-1660),                  
 Rijksmuseum,  Amsterdam
John Amos Comenius
(Jan Amos Segeš Nivnický, po otci nazvaný Komenský)

 28. March 1592 – 15. November 1670

Representative of Puritan Protestantism in continental Europe, Comenius visited his fellow Puritans in England (1641-42), whose efforts resulted in the resettlement of Jews in England. The known English Comenian John Dury, diplomatic agent of Oliver Cromwell, was first to work for the admission of Jews to England, and corresponded about this subject with Menasseh ben Israel  in Amsterdam.
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John  Amos  Comenius

C o n t e n t s :

The great John Amos Comenius has always been remembered as the last bishop of the Jednota Bratrská, better known as the Unity of the Bohemian or Moravian Brethren, the Puritan Protestant Church of Czechoslovakia, before its conquest by Austria (1618-1648), and centuries of brutal suppression by the Roman-Catholic church. As such he is a national symbol of Czech identity.

Since the Brethren have been called pre-Calvin Calvinists, John Amos was
not sent to Wittenberg or some other Lutheran university, but to Herborn in Nassau where a new Calvinist university had been founded by a brother of William of Orange in 1584, the year of his assassination. His first publications were printed in Herborn, e. g. his thesis written under Johann Heinrich Alsted:

Problemata Haec Miscellanea, Fretus auxilio & patrocinio Clarissimi Viri, Dn. M. Henrici Gutberlethi In Inclyto Inclytorum ac Generosiss. Comitum Nassoviorum Athenæo Herbornensi Logices et Physices Professoris ordinarii, Præceptoris sui honorandi, publicitùs veritatis lance pensiculandam studiosis offert Johannes Amos Marcomanno-Niwniczenus (Herborn, Nassau 1612).

Sylloge Quæstionum Controversarum è Philosphiæ viridario depromptarum: Pro quarum veritate Sub Clypio Doctiss. Viri Johannis-Henrici Alstedi, Philosophiæ in incluto Nassoviorum Lyceo Professoris sollertissimi, Præceptoris sui charissimi multumque honorandi, in publico philosophantium acroaterio pugnabit Johannes Amos è Marcomannis Niwnicenus (Herborn, Nassau 1613).

John Henry Alsted, Herborn University Professor, and
teacher of John Amos Comenius

When John Amos Comenius arrived at the University of Herborn in Nassau, Germany, he did not yet use this latinization of his father’s name Komenský (derived from the town Komña), but registered as Joannes Amos Nivnicensis (after his native village of Nivnice) on 30. March 1611, his real family name being Segeš, cf. Milada Blekastad, Comenius (Oslo 1969) pp. 11, 16, 18, 24.

While Lutheran and Anglican philosophy shared the neo-scholasticism of the Roman-Catholic church, Puritan philosophy was fiercely anti-Aristotelian. Its champion was Petrus Ramus. Both the pedagogical realism of Comenius, and the empiricism of Francis Bacon have their roots in Ramism; cf. Ed Metzler, The Impact of Israel on Western Philosophy (Herborn 1993) pp. 24-29.

“As an outcome of the persecutions, some of the Brethren preferred adopting Judaism to forced conversion to Catholicism or emigration. Some Bohemian Jewish families traced their descent to these converted Brethren, among them Brod, Dub, Jellinek, Kafka, Kuranda, and Pacovsky.” The preceding passage has been quoted from the Encyclopaedia Judaica, on Hussites, vol. 8 at 1136.


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