Tu, quamcumque Deus tibi fortunaverit horam,
Grata sume manu, neu dulcia differ in annum:
Ut, quocumque loco fueris, vixisse libenter
Te dicas. *

Memoriam Amicitiae ante triennium in
Anglia contractae commendat
J. J. Wetstenius

Basileae Id. Jul. MDCCXIX.

 * Horace, Epistulae 1.11.22-25.


Whichever hour of yours is blessed by God with happiness, / accept it with grateful hands, do not defer for the future that is sweet / in order you could tell at the end that / you have lived with joy. *

I recommend into your memory our friendship made in England three years ago
J. J. Wetstein

In Basel, at the Idus of July of 1719.








p. 313. Basel, July 15, 1719

Wettstein, Johann Jakob
(1693-1754), Swiss Reformed theologian, orientalist

Johann Jakob Wettstein (Wetstein) was born in Basel on March 5, 1693, the second son (out of thirteen) of the erudite pastor of the St. Leonard Johann Rudolf Wettstein, and of Sara Sarafin, the grand-grandson of the renowned Mayor of Basel, Johann Rudolf W. (1594-1666). In 1706, at the age of 13 he was already admitted to the academy of Basel, and in 1708 he received the first award for his lecture Bonis omnia in bonum cedere. In 1709 he graduated M.A. of philosophy. Then he read theology with the renowned professors Johann Ludwig Frey (1682-1759), Jakob Christoph Iselin (1681-1737), Samuel Werenfels (1657-1740) and his relative Johann Rudolf Wettstein (1647-1711), grandson of the above mentioned Mayor, thus cousin of the father of our Johann Jakob. In 1713 he became a candidate pastor. He studied Hebrew and Syriac, the Talmud and the ancient sources, translated Greek ecclesiastical and secular authors. In 1714 he went to visit the academies of Zürich, Bern, Geneva, Lyon, Paris and England. He made acquaintance with many renowned scholars, in Cambridge for example with Richard Bentley (1662-1742), who encouraged him to study the Syriac codex of St. Ephraim in Paris. In 1717 he became "diaconus communis" (assistant pastor) in Basel, then diacone of the St. Leonard until 1730, thus colleague and successor of his father. In the meantime he pursued textual criticism, and planned to publish a new edition of the New Testament. In 1729 however he was accused of heterodoxy as well as with Socinian and Arian sympathies; he was obliged to revoke the manuscript of his Bible edition, and in 1730 he was dismissed from his office of diacone. Then he went to his relative and publisher in Amsterdam, the bookseller Wettstein, where in 1731 he was appointed professor of philosophy, a successor of the old and ill Johannes Clericus (1657-1736). However, attack from his home town reached him also here, and he had to document and confirm his beliefs in writing to the Dreizehnherren ("the Thirteen", the highest authorities of the canton of Basel). Later he was invited to Basel, but he refused to go, and remained in Amsterdam, where the Remonstrants confirmed him in his position. In 1751-52 he published the chef-d'oeuvre of his life, the edition of the Greek New Testament with rich commentaries. From 1752 he was the member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, and from 1753 of the Royal Society of London. He was never married. He died on March 23, 1754 in Amsterdam. His biographer Karl Rudolf Hagenbach (1860) called him "martyr of the incipient Illumination". His main works: Dissertatio de variis Novi Testamenti lectionibus, Basel, 1713. – Prolegomena ad Novi Testamenti Graeci editionem accuratissimam … Amsterdam, 1730. – Declaratio Senatui Basiliensi exhibita d. 22. Decmb. 1731. [Sine loco], 1732. – He Kaine diatheke: Novum Testamentum Graecum … Amsterdam, 1751. 2 tom. – Duae epistolae S. Clementis Romani, discipuli Petri Apostoli, quas ex codice manuscripto Novi Testamenti Syriaci nunc primum erutas, cum versione Latina apposita. Leiden, 1752.

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