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This is our edition of De godlievende ziel of 1724 by Jan Suderman. In this introduction, we have limited ourselves to the essentials.

About Jan Suderman

Jan Suderman was born in Rotterdam in 1680.1 He worked in a Mennonite church as a deacon, but also seems to have made a living as a merchant. He translated several sermons of some famous English and French theologians into Dutch.

By far Suderman's most important creation is the De godlievende ziel vertoont in zinnebeelden (The God Loving Soul Depicted in Emblems, 1724). It was published during a quite productive period in Suderman's life. Almost every book he worked was published in either 1724 or 1725.

In the "Poëten-Oorlog" ('War of the Poets') he fought on the side of admirers of Vondel.2 Amongst them the Rotterdam poets Joan de Haes, Kornelis van Arckel, Jan van Hoogstraten. They all strived to keep a more classical outlook on poetry alive, and opposed to the new ideals of the Enlightenment. It is not known when Suderman died, but it must have been after 1724 since he was still alive when De godlievende ziel vertoont in zinnebeelden was published.

About the De godlievende ziel

It is easy to see who inspired Suderman to write De godlievende ziel vertoont in zinnebeelden. On the title-page of the emblem book he mentions the names of two poets: Herman Hugo and Otto Vaenius. All picturae in Suderman's emblem book are taken from their Pia desideria (1624) and Amoris divini emblemata (1615), and the same can be said of Hugo's and Vaenius's mottoes. Suderman has even kept the same order of appearance. The prose sections of Hugo's emblems are not translated by Suderman. All of the subscriptio's of the De godlievende ziel vertoont in zinnebeelden consist of poems of about 20 lines, and have Dutch titles (translations of the original Latin mottoes of Hugo and Vaenius). In the case of Vaenius, Suderman has based these 20 lines per emblem solely on the Dutch subscriptio's of the Amoris divini emblemata.

In the preface to the book to the "Den Godlievenden Lezer" (The godloving reader, see: Den Godlievenden Lezer), Suderman explains his attitude towards Hugo and Vaenius as follows: 'De Latynsche vaerzen van H. Hugo op zyne Zinnebeelden, als mede de Nederduitsche, en eindelyk de Fransche zoo wel daerop als op die van Otto van Veen gemaekt, hebbe ik gemydt te lezen om de vryheit van myne eigene gedachten niet te belemmeren, nochte te pronken met vederen die de myne niet waren;' (I have avoided reading the original texts in Latin, Dutch and French by Hugo and Vaenius, in order not to limit myself in thinking freely, or to borrow too much of the writing qualities that they can call their own.). It is clearly, though, that he has read what Hugo and Vaenius have written about the matter, since he is able to distinguish himself from their example: 'Ik voere hier doorgaens niet zoo zeer eenen Kruishelt als wel eene Kruisheldin in, waarom zy dikwyls als zoodanigh spreekt. Dit dacht my in deze stoffe naturelyker te wezen.' (In my poems, you will encounter a female instead of a male 'hero of faith'; this seems to me to be more appropiate and natural, considering the subject of the matter).3 He then goes on in clarifying the nature of the male figure depicted in Vaenius's picturae, and again show some critical distance in his treatment of Vaenius's emblem book: 'Alhoewel in het Eerste Zinnebeeldt van O. van Veen de Goddelyke Liefde eigentlyk schynt te beduiden Godts Liefde tot de ziel, zoo gaet dat daer vervolgens niet allezins door; om welke reden ik ook gemeent hebbe de vryheit te mogen gebruiken van door de Goddelyke Liefde dikwyls de Liefde der ziele tot Godt te verstaen' (Vaenius, as it seems, in the first emblem of his book, depicted God's love for the human soul as a male figure. But he did not follow this line of thought in the rest of his book. Therefore, I have taken the liberty to see in this male figure the love of the human soul for God.), see Url: v161502Incipiendum [2] (in: De godlievende ziel (1724))4. Suderman obviously relates to an existing idea about the meaning of Vaenius's first emblem. We have yet not established the origins of this idea, but it is interesting to see this reference to a contemporary interpretation of this first emblem in Amoris divini emblemata. The whole of De godlievende ziel vertoont in zinnebeelden can be seen in this light: the book can be seen and studied as an early eighteenth century reflection on Hugo's and Vaenius's emblems.

The De godlievende ziel was printed by Henrik Wetstein in 1724. The book was probably reprinted in 1736 - it is not totally sure the known copies of the book dating from 1736 are different from the known copies of 1724. It could be the 1736 copies have a new title-page, but are otherwise similar to the 1724 copies. In 1737 a different printer, Balthasar Lakeman, published a second/third edition of De godlievende ziel. In 1747 the book was reprinted for the last time. Some errata of the first editions are corrected in the 1737 and 1749 editions. 5

Copy Used for This Edition

In making this edition of De godlievende ziel we have used the copy of the edition of 1724 conserved in the Library of the Utrecht University, shelf number AB THO PER 164-381. Some of the plates of this copy are missing (XIV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XL, XLIV from the first book, XIV, XX and XXI from the second book). We have complemented our edition with plates from a copy of De godlievende ziel dating from 1737, also kept in the Library of the Utrecht University, shelf number LBKUN: RAR LMY HUGO 3. The copperplates used for this 1737-edition are the same as the ones used in 1724.

We have also changed the order of appearance of the emblems in our section 'Facsmile Images' (the pages with text in the original book are facing each other, while we are presenting text pages and picturae next to each other).


We have transcribed the full text from the Utrecht copy and encoded this text using TEI mark-up, to allow for flexibility in presentation and non-destructive editorial enhancement of the text. The full Project Guidelines for transcription, editorial intervention and indexing of the text are available elsewhere on this site. The errata mentioned in the book (Drukfeilen) have been corrected in this digital edition, along with some evident prining errors.


The full Emblem Project Utrecht bibliography may be accessed using the menu option at the left side of this (or any) window. A selection of literature relevant to De godlievenden ziel follows here.

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This brief sketch of Suderman's life is based on Van Galen, Bijbelse gedichten Haes, p. 32 and 117, and on Haes, Alle gedichten.
Vondel's name is mentioned by Suderman in the preface of De godlievende ziel when he quotes Vondel's Jefta (see Den Godlievenden Lezer.
Suderman is probably using the word 'kruishelt' in the same sense Vondel did before him; he finds it more naturally to refer to the human soul as 'she'.
Suderman is most likely referring to the second emblem of Vaenius's Amoris divini emblemata. In the pictura of this emblem the words 'Amor Divinus' explain the nature of the male figure.
This printing history is based on Daly, Jesuit Series, p. 164-173