The Bohemian reformer Jan Hus made a substantial and critical contribution to the development of the medieval church, owing especially to his views and teachings on Scripture, the church, faith, conscience, and spirituality. This book offers a presentation of Hus’s theological commitment centered on his understanding of truth. Lášek and Franklin explore Hus's preaching ministry and his long-drawn-out legal struggle against charges of heresy as ethical outworkings of this approach to truth. Central to this exploration is a new annotated translation of Hus’s Appeal to Jesus Christ as the Supreme Judge against the pope and canon law. This document was not only a protest against papal power, but expressed a fundamentally new legal situation: in bypassing canon law, it essentially represented a personal claim to freedom of conscience. This unheard-of principle from within the medieval legal framework preceded other related ecclesiastical and legal developments by several centuries. The authors argue that Hus’s appeal thus represents a momentous event in church history and European history as a whole. Due to the historical significance of his martyrdom and commemoration by many churches throughout Europe, this book demonstrates that Hus remains an important figure not only for the study of European history, but also for understanding contemporary values of Western civilization.
Jan Lášek is the Vice-Dean for Science and Research at the Hussite Theological Faculty of Charles University in Prague.
Angelo Shaun Franklin is an independent researcher who works as a translator and educational consultant in Prague.
Preface — Angelo Shaun Franklin
Preface to the 1991 Czech Edition — Jan Blahoslav Lášek
Author’s Preface to the 2021 English Edition — Jan Blahoslav Lášek
Chapter 1: Historical Background: The Context of the Medieval Church
Chapter 2: The Life of Jan Hus
Chapter 3: Hus’s Appeal to Jesus Christ the Supreme Judge: An Annotated Translation
Chapter 4: Hus in Exile and in Constance
Chapter 5: Hus as a Reformer: Truth in Word and in Deed
Chapter 6: The Preaching of Hus: His Commitment to Proclaiming Truth
Conclusion: The Contemporary Struggle for Truth
Appendix: Hus’s Homily on the Holy Trinity (John 3:1–15): An Annotated Translation
About the Authors