Peter Heyling was a missionary in Egypt and Ethiopia. A native of the Hanseatic city of Lübec, Germany, Heyling studied law and theology in Paris (1628 to 1632), where he was influenced by Hugo de Groot. Together with some fellow students he set out to “reawaken the derelict churches of the Orient to genuine evangelical life.” After a period in Egypt, he traveled to Ethiopia in 1634, where he became an influential minister, teacher, and doctor at the court of King Fasilides (1632 to 1667) and attempted to bring about reform and renewal in Coptic Christianity. This resulted not only in Christological disputes but also in an Amharic translation of the New Testament. He was expelled from the country and died, probably in Sudan as a martyr. There are traces of his work in the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (founded in 1959).
Gustav Arén, Evangelical Pioneers in Ethiopia: Origins of the Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. (1978), pp. 34-38, 409 f.; P. Bredvey, “Peter Heyling, Etiopias første evangeliske misjonær,” Norsk Tidsskrift for Misjon 11 (1957): 39-46; Otto F. A. Meinardus, “Peter Heyling, History and Legend,” Ostkirchliche Studien 14 (1965): 305-326, and “De Petro Helingo Germano Lubecensi,”* Zeitschrift des Vereins für Lübeckische Geschichte und Altertumskunde* 68 (1988): 139-157; Johann Heinrich Michaelis, Sonderbarer Lebens-Lauff Herrn Peter Heylings (1724) (extracted in Werner Raupp, ed., Mission in Quellentexten, 1990, pp. 97 ff.).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.