Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The first Anabaptist baptisms

These two photos are the locations of the first baptisms among Anabaptists. The nondescript street is Neustadtgasse, where Felix Mantz lived. We don't know where he lived exactly, but it was on this street near the Grossmuenster, or cathedral. Mantz was the illegitimate son of the canon of the cathedral.

Mantz gathered at his home with Conrad Grebel, George Blaurock and others to decide what to do after the Zurich council had declared that everyone must have their children baptized. They decided to start baptizing each other based on their confession of faith. So this happened on January 21, 1525.
The Hutterite Chronicle tells the story: "After prayer, George Blaurock stood up and asked Conrad Grebel in the name of God to baptize him with true Christian baptism on his faith and recognition of the truth. With this request he knelt down and Conrad baptized him. Then the others turned to George in their turn, asking him to baptize them, which he did."

The second picture is of a house in Zollikon, once a farming village outside of Zurich, now a suburb. I travelled there by boat, though it is also accessible by train.
The Anabaptists were evangelistic from the start. The very next day Johannes Broetli baptized someone in Zollikon at this Rudi Thomann home. A wave of baptisms swept the area. There is a plaque on the house, though it can no longer be read because the owner has allowed that bush to grow over it. Perhaps there is some frustration with tourists snapping photos? I don't know.
Anyway, from Sam Wenger's Swiss Anabaptist tour book I know that it says, in English translation: "The concept of the believers' church was first realized in Zollikon by Anabaptists. In this house on January 25, 1525, one of their earliest meetings was held.
I want to mention that my source for the beginnings of Anabaptism in Zurich, Zollikon, Hallau, Waldshut, etc., is the recent essay by C. Arnold Snyder called "Swiss Anabaptism: The beginnings, 1523-1525" found in A Companion to Anabaptism and Spiritualism, 1521-1700, edited by John D. Roth and James M. Stayer, 2007. The book itself is a great resource for getting up to date on the state of Anabaptist studies.


Magician said...

Many thanks for recent post and photos. I appreciate it on two levels: One, it helps with my presentations to high school seniors and two, it helps flesh out bits and pieces of the Anabaptist history for my own understanding. Keep up the good work. I would love to be there with you.

Geoffrey Hoare said...


Many thanks for this blog. I'm really enjoying it. I especially liked the wall of the reformers in Geneva. When I was there on sabbatical I sent a postcard back to church with each of them wearing what appeared to be a cape made of snow. My comment on the card 'doubtless a cold day in hell' was not widely appreciated. I'm also enjoying an education in the Anabaptist tradition. have fun. Geoffrey

Doug Kaufman said...

Thanks Geoffrey and Magician for reading my blog. I'm glad you are enjoying it. I am enjoying writing it. I'm trying to show the ups and downs, heroics and histrionics of the Anabaptist movement.

Geneva was a beautiful place. The food was horribly expensive.

blueridgewv said...

How about posting the Hutterite Confession of Faith, since it cannot be found anywhere on the web! Would like to compare it to English Westminster and Baptist confessions.

Doug Kaufman said...

Sorry for taking so long to respond to blueridgewv. I haven't responded because I really didn't know where to find a Hutterite Confession of Faith. I meant to check with the Mennonite Historical Library in Goshen, Indiana. The main Hutterite Confession of Faith that I know of is that of Peter Riedemann, an early Hutterite leader, written in 1540 - 1542 while he was in prison. The authoritative edition of this appears to be the one edited and translated by John J. Friesen and published by Herald Press as part of their Classics of the Radical Reformation series. At 272 pages, it suggests that the confession is a long one. I did manage to find Riedemann's earlier confession of 1529-1532, also written in prison, at the Plough Publishing web site. It is in the form of an ebook at http://www.plough.com/ebooks/pdfs/LoveIsLikeFire.pdf However this confession is technically when he was an Anabaptist and had not yet become a Hutterite, or communistic, type of Anabaptist. So you can check out this 81 page ebook. I'll let you know if I find out more. Plough Publishing is the only Hutterite publisher that I know of, though I am sure there are some smaller more traditional ones.