Hans Peter Hansen Gjevnøe (1868-1927)

Grundtvigian clergyman, MA theology, headmaster of Stevns Folk High School 1894-97, reverend in Thim-Madum in Jutland, and then in Grevinge on Sealand. 

Around 1900 H.P. Gjevnøe reviewed literature on the relationship between Christianity and evolution for the orthodox Grundtvigian organ Dansk Kirketidende [Dansih Chruch News]. He was very positive of the anti-Darwinian works of the Jesuit Amand Breitung, while he severely criticised the liberal theologian Eduard Geismar, who attempted to integrate Christian ethics and evolutionary naturalism. In 1902 Gjevnøe published his work Fire Foredrag om Skabelsen [Four Lectures on Creation] (Copenhagen: J. Frimodts Forlag, 1902), which was based on a series of lectures delivered before his parishioners in Thim and Madum in Western Jutland. When preparing his lectures Gjevnøe had consulted Breitung, who was known as a reconciler of science and faith and a critic of human evolution. Gjevnøe followed the Jesuit’s line of argument. He accepted a version of teleological evolution while arguing for parallel lines of descent and for excluding humans from the evolutionary process. Moreover, Gjevnøe supported the day-age theory which asserted that each day of creation should be interpreted as a geological period, and he emphasised as a kind of apologetics that there was a remarkable resemblance between the order of the creation of the animals in Genesis 1 and the sequence of the animals according to the Darwinian theory of evolution. Gjevnøe’s book was well received in both the conservative and the Grundtvigian press. 

Hans Henrik Hjermitslev

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