Thomas à Kempis Biography

Author Profile (Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

After being ordained to the priesthood in 1413, Thomas à Kempis entered an Augustinian monastery in the Netherlands, where he remained the rest his life. He is widely credited with having written the book, Imatio Christi, or The Imitation of Christ around 1427.

Although scholars have sometimes seen similarities between the thought of Thomas àKempis and the later Protestant reformer Martin Luther, any such similarity was apparently not obvious to the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1662 the Massachusetts General Court—the Colony’s principal legislative body—created a licensing board to supervise printing within the colony. In 1669, however, the General Court discovered that the board had licensed the printing of The Imitation of Christ. It promptly instructed the licensing board to revise the work of this “popish minister” before going forward with the printing. The board declined the task of attempting a revision, and the publisher abandoned the printing of the book.

Thomas à Kempis Bibliography (Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Creasy, William C. Introduction to The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1989.

Easwaran, Eknath. Seeing with the Eyes of Love: Reflections on a Classic of Christian Mysticism. Tomales, Calif.: Nilgiri Press, 1991.

Hyma, Albert. The Brethren of the Common Life. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1950.

Hyma, Albert. The Christian Renaissance: A History of “Devotio Moderno.” 1924. Reprint. Hamden, Conn.: Archon, 1965.

Post, R. R. The Modern Devotion: Confrontation with Reformation and Humanism. Leiden, the Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1968.