Egede, Hans

EGEDE, HANS (1686-1758), Norwegian missionary, was born in the vogtship of Senjen, Norway, on the 31st of January 1686. He studied at the university of Copenhagen, and in 1706 became pastor at Vaagen in the Lofoten islands, but the study of the chronicles of the northmen having awakened in him the desire to visit the colony of Northmen in Greenland, and to convert them to Christianity, he resigned his charge in 1717; and having, after great difficulty, obtained the sanction and help of the Danish government in his enterprise, he set sail with three ships from Bergen on the 3rd of May 1721, accompanied by his wife and children. He landed on the west coast of Greenland on the 3rd of July, but found to his dismay that the Northmen were entirely superseded by the Eskimo, in whom he had no particular interest, and whose language he would be able to master, if at all, only after years of study. But, though compelled to endure for some years great privations, and at one time to see the result of his labours almost annihilated by the ravages of small-pox, he remained resolutely at his post. He founded the colony of Godthaab, and soon gained the affections of the people. He converted many of them to Christianity, and established a considerable commerce with Denmark. Ill-health compelling him to return home in 1736, he was made principal of a seminary at Copenhagen, in which workers were trained for the Greenland mission; and from 1740 to 1747 he was superintendent of the mission. He died on the 5th of November 1758. He is the author of a book on the natural history of Greenland.

His work in Greenland was continued, on his retirement, by his son Paul Egede (1708-1789), who afterwards returned to Denmark and succeeded his father as superintendent of the Greenland mission. Paul Egede also became professor of theology in the mission seminary. He published a Greenland-Danish-Latin dictionary (1750), Greenland grammar (1760) and Greenland catechism (1756). In 1766 he completed the translation begun by his father of the New Testament into the Greenland tongue; and in 1787 he translated Thomas à Kempis. In 1789 he published a journal of his life in Greenland.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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