PONTOPPIDAN, pen-tep'pî-dun, ERIK: Danish bishop; b. at Aarhus (on the eastern shore of Jutland) Aug. 24, 1698; d. at Copenhagen Dec. 20, 1764. He was educated at Fredericia (1716-18), after which he was a private tutor in Norway, and then studied in Holland, and at London and Oxford, England. In 1721 he became informator of Frederick Carl of Carlstein (later duke of Plön), and two years later morning preacher in the castle and afternoon preacher at Nordborg. From 1726 to 1734 he was pastor at Hagenberg, where he so protected the pietists as to find it advisable to defend his course against the Lutherans with Dialogus; oder Unterredung Severi, Sinceri, und Simplicis von der Religion und Reinheit der Lehre (1726) and Heller Glaubensspiegel (1727). During this same period he laid the foundation of his later topographical and historical works in Memoria Hafni (1729); Theatrum Dani (1736); and Kurzgefasste Reformationshistorie der dänischen. Kirche. Pontoppidan became successively pastor at Hilleröd and castle preacher at Frederiksborg (1734), Danish court preacher at Copenhagen (1735), professor extraordinary of theology at the University (1738), and a member of the mission board (1740), meanwhile writing his Everriculum fermenti veteris (1736) and Böse Sprichwörter (1739).
In 1736 Pontoppidan was directed by royal rescript to prepare an explanation of the catechism and a new hymnal, and through these two works--Wahrheit zur Gottesfurcht (1737) and the hymnbook (1740)--the pietistic cause in Denmark received powerful assistance. He likewise continued his historical investigations in his Marmora Danica (3 vols., 1739-41; a collection of noteworthy epitaphs and ecclesiastical monuments) and his uncritical Annales ecclesi Danic (4 vols., 1741-52); and also wrote a novel, Menoza (3 vols., 1742-43), a critique of the religious conditions of Denmark and other countries. In 1747 he was appointed bishop at Bergen, where he introduced many educational reforms, and wrote Glossarium Norvagicum (1749) and Versuch einer natürlichen Geschichte Norwegens (Copenhagen, 1752-53), while his pastoral letters formed in part the basis of his later Collegium pastorale practicum (1757). The antagonism which Pontoppidan roused at Bergen, however, obliged him to go in 1754 to Copenhagen, where he became prochancellor at the university in the following year. But all his plans in this capacity were thwarted by his opponents, and he sought consolation in writing, the results being his Origines Hafnienses (1760) and the first two parts of his Den danske Atlas (1763-67), of which the last five volumes were edited posthumously. He was also active as a political economist, being the editor of Danmarks og Norges ökonomiske, Magazin (8 vols., 1757-64).