January 2000 Jecker

January 2000

“Test Everything; Hold Fast to What is Good”:

How Menno Caused a Reformed Pastor to Travel

from Murten to Moravia


Abstract: Jakob Gelthuser, a Reformed
pastor from the Swiss village of Murten, broke the boundaries of state
toleration when, in the 1580s, he tried to understand the Anabaptists
of his time, not only through reading polemical literature denouncing
the movement but also through direct and authentic personal contacts.
Gelthuser established wide-ranging contacts with Swiss Brethren adherents,
he acquired and studied the first German edition of Menno’s Fundamentbuch
of 1575 and he undertook an investigative journey to Moravia in order
to become better acquainted with the Hutterite colonies there. When authorities
called him to account for his actions, Gelthuser made several very revealing
statements about the Anabaptists of his day that open up numerous new
insights into a phase of Anabaptist history about which very little is

As is well known, the relationship between
the Dutch and Upper German Swiss Anabaptists of the sixteenth century
was anything but tranquil. Despite several colloquies (especially those
in Strasbourg in 1555 and 1557), it proved impossible to resolve the existing
theological differences between the two groups. Above all, the two factions
could not reach consensus on the issues of Christology, excommunication
and shunning.[1]
Reciprocal relations came to a tentative low point in 1559 when Menno
Simons terminated spiritual fellowship with the Upper German group on
account of these issues and then placed them under the ban.[2]

Surprisingly, however, there was no lack
of attempts in the ensuing decades to pick up the mutual discussions.
Although the conferences at Neckartal (1575) and Cologne (1591) did not
lead to comprehensive agreement, they did reflect a desire by the representatives
of both sides not to break off contact with each other.[3]

Quite possibly this ongoing contact was
encouraged by the publication in 1575 of a German translation of Menno
Simons’ writings. The translation from Low German-entitled Fundamentum:
Ein Fundament und klare Anweisung von der Seligmachenden Lehre unsers
Herren Jesu Christi-was based on the third edition of Menno’s work
(1567). It remains unclear who requested or financed this printing, who
translated it into German, or where it was finally printed. It does seem
plausible, however, that interest in a German edition of Menno’s works
was greatest in those areas with the most contact between the High German-Swiss
and the Dutch Anabaptists, which points especially to the Eifel region
and to that part of the Rhineland around Cologne.

It is thus all the more surprising-as Heinold
Fast noted already 40 years ago-that a sixteenth-century codex including,
among other items, two longer texts by Menno Simons, was found in the
deep Anabaptist south, namely in the Burgerbibliothek in Bern.[4]

Fast’s analysis clarified two points: first,
that the German Fundamentbuch of 1575 served as the source for
both of the handwritten copies of Menno’s writings; second, that the copyist
can be identified as a Swiss Anabaptist, both by the dialect used and
by distinctive changes that were made in its contents. From a theological
standpoint, the omissions and revisions of Menno’s passages that argue
for rigorous practice of the ban and shunning are characteristic of the
Swiss Brethren. Unfortunately, very little is known about this manuscript;
we know virtually nothing concrete about its origins, the motives that
brought it into existence, or the identity of the copyist.

As much as I would have liked to solve
the riddle of the publication of the first German edition of Menno’s Fundamentbuch
of 1575 or the origins of Codex 693 of the Bern Burgerbibliothek, I must
admit that I have not yet been able to do so. During the course of my
research on the Anabaptist movement in Basel, however, I stumbled upon
the fact that the Fundamentbuch of 1575 was available in Switzerland
very soon after its publication. The turbulent and exciting story of its
appearance-pieced together from archival sources-is both informative for
Anabaptist research and offers clues to several questions that have hitherto
remained unanswered.


Gelthuser’s Early Contacts with Anabaptism (1573-1578)

During the
winter semester of 1556-57 a certain “Jakobus Gelthuserus Liechstalenses”
matriculated in the theological faculty of the university of Basel.[6]
He was the son of Hans Gelthuser, who served for many years as the Reformed
pastor at Munzach close to Liestal, before later taking the pastorate
at Seon in the Bern/Aargau region.[7]
In 1558 Jacob was elected to succeed his father in Seon, but he apparently
never assumed the position.[8]
Instead, on August 14, 1559 he married “his wife Agatha” (sin[er] husfrow
Agatha) in Liestal. Beyond this, however, he left behind no other
traces in the church record books there.[9]
At about this same time he entered the service of the church and seems
to have held pastorates in the Thurgau area as well as in Brugg before
serving as pastor of Wangen an der Aare from 1573 to 1578.[10]

Gelthuser’s first known contacts with contemporary
Anabaptism fall into this period.[11]
Early in 1583 he stated that some five years earlier-thus around 1577
or 1578-he had visited the market in Solothurn.[12]
While there, he “stopped at the house of the doctor,” (inn des Doctors
hus ÿnkert), where he met a large number of people eating together
at two tables.[13]
Of those present he had known only “the Anabaptists (Töüffere)
Köderle and Cedo.”[14]
When Gelthuser asked about the identity of the others, his host simply
responded, “they are the most pious and upright people, namely Anabaptists”
(es sÿenndt de frömbdschen unnd biderben lüt, nämlich Töüffer).

Subsequently, Gelthuser became involved
in a discussion with this group of Anabaptists, and the talk turned to
theological beliefs. As the conversation continued, the Anabaptists produced
a book to illustrate their position and showed it to Gelthuser. He later
referred to it as “their book, called Brotherly Life in which are
written seven articles that contradict holy evangelical teaching” (Ir
Buch, das brüderlich läben genannt, darinnen 7 Artickell wider die H.
Evangellÿsche Leer beschribenn).[15]
After finishing breakfast with his conversation partners, Gelthuser left
the gathering and returned home. What is surprising about this incident
is the existence, on the one hand, of an obviously well known physician
whose house in Solothurn served as a meeting place for the Anabaptists.
On the other hand, it is equally surprising that Gelthuser, as a Reformed
Bernese pastor, clearly did not take any initiative to inform the authorities
of Solothurn about the matter.

Jacob Gelthuser as Pastor at Murten (1578-1582)

Early in June
of 1578 Gelthuser assumed the pastorate of the German-speaking Reformed
congregation in Murten.[16]
During his tenure there as preacher of the Word he took pains “to systematically
teach to the people the most important articles of faith and the Christian
apostolic confession, all in a thorough and Biblically-sound manner.”[17]
In the context of his preaching, he obviously also addressed the ecclesiastical
sacraments in their proper order. Only the question of baptism still remained.
Since, however, this sacrament was “given a special place and interpreted
in unique ways by various sects,” and since “great quarreling and even
deadly persecution” had resulted over it, Gelthuser considered it “advisable
and quite useful” to also study the Anabaptist writings on this issue.
Subsequently, Gelthuser apparently visited Anabaptists known to him in
Switzerland and asked if he could see their books. Since these Anabaptists,
however, did not trust him and refused to put any of their literature
at his disposal, Gelthuser looked around for other sources.[18]

In the fall of 1581 he went “to Pillico
in the Palatinate to settle some overdue accounts with his brothers-in-law.”[19]
The fact that Gelthuser, who clearly came from Liestal, had several brothers-in-law
at Billigheim in the Electoral Palatinate suggests that his wife, whose
name we do not know, possibly came from there. What is of even more interest,
however, is that on October 16, 1581 Gelthuser came to Billigheim to meet
with an Anabaptist teacher named Maternus.[20]
The two apparently already knew each other since Maternus came to Billigheim
specifically to visit Gelthuser and “to ask how he was getting along and
where he now lived.” On this occasion Gelthuser asked his Palatine Anabaptist
acquaintances “whether they didn’t have a book that the Anabaptists were
using.” Maternus immediately answered in the affirmative and mentioned
Menno’s Fundamentbuch. He further said that “the Anabaptists were
in agreement in everything except the ban; on this point they could not
agree. When Gelthuser asked Maternus whether he could borrow the book
until the following Easter, Maternus readily agreed.

After his return to Murten on the evening
of St. Martin’s Day (November 11),[21]
Gelthuser studied Menno’s extensive writings, apparently in great detail.
As he did so, he even took pains to correct all the printing errors and
to note these in longhand on five pages at the conclusion of the book.

At the end of February of the following
year (1582), Gelthuser was preparing to return the Fundamentbuch
to his Palatine acquaintances by Easter as promised. He charged a young
student-whom Gelthuser had learned to know the previous fall on his return
trip from the Palatinate-with this task. The young man was the son of
the pastor of Gottstatt;[22]
he had lived in Gelthuser’s house in Murten during the winter months.
Interestingly, Gelthuser claimed that the reason the young man had stayed
with him was to be instructed “in the medical arts,” as he promised the
young man’s father.[23]
In the course of the winter this pastor’s son came into conflict with
the mayor of Murten because of his intemperate speech and behavior. For
this he had received an apparently lengthy jail sentence. During this
time, for unclear reasons, the young man developed a desire, following
his release from prison, to teach in a school for the Anabaptists that
was just about to open in Ramberg. He therefore asked his instructor and
landlord Gelthuser to write him the necessary letter of recommendation
“to the Anabaptists of Ramberg.” At first Gelthuser turned down this request;
instead, he offered to write a letter of reference gladly if the young
man would agree “to enter the service of a master.” But because the young
man continued to insist, and likely also because Gelthuser had sympathy
for the prisoner, Gelthuser actually wrote the requested letter on February
25, 1582. The pastor’s son was then to deliver the letter together with
the Fundamentbuch to the Anabaptist teacher Maternus in the Palatinate.
It was probably the end of February or the beginning of March when the
young man set out with his goods.[24]
That he never arrived at his destination was a fortunate turn of events
for Anabaptist historical research. In any case, for Gelthuser, it marked
the beginning of a dramatic and turbulent period of his life.

The young messenger had not even crossed
the Bernese border when his lack of discretion again led him into complications.
In a conversation with some clergy from the chapter of Nidau, he could
not refrain from talking about the book he carried with him. This immediately
aroused their curiosity and he could only watch as they confiscated the
Fundamentbuch and the accompanying letter. Just a few days later
a communiqu arrived in Bern concerning this noteworthy contraband.

Already on Wednesday, March 14, 1582 Bern
sent an order to Murten demanding that Gelthuser appear in Bern on the
following Monday because of the Anabaptist book that “he had intended
to send to Straburg.”[25]
The mayor immediately forwarded the order to Gelthuser but refused to
tell him the precise reason for the summons, even when the pastor asked
about it. In the meantime, Gelthuser strongly suspected on his own that
something must have gone awry with the delivery of the book to the Palatinate.
From Gelthuser’s perspective-as became clear in his subsequent efforts
to defend himself-events then unfolded as follows.

Because of an illness[26]
and inclement weather, Gelthuser decided not to travel personally to Bern,
but to give a written account of himself regarding the confiscated Anabaptist
book and the accompanying letter. While Gelthuser was busy composing the
appropriate dossier for Bern, “a warning from a sympathetic patron” (warnung
von einem vertruwten gönner) arrived.[27]
The message made clear “how the clergy involved the authorities in a bad
game” with him and said that he would, therefore, “need to act carefully
and with extreme caution.”

With that information in hand, Gelthuser
conferred on Sunday, March 18 with his pastoral supervisor Johannes Sybold
of Kerzers[28]
to ask for his counsel. Sybold, however, did not want to give any specific
advice but said somewhat evasively that Gelthuser might do well to be
his own best counselor in a matter such as this. It become clear to Gelthuser
that Sybold was well informed and that the others must have ordered him
to remain silent about the matter. Apparently the mayor learned of Gelthuser’s
growing concerns and later that Sunday afternoon came with the pastor
of the French-speaking church to visit him at the parsonage. When he found
Gelthuser sick in bed, he urgently admonished him to go promptly to Bern.
When Gelthuser replied that this was not possible because of his illness,
mayor Wyttenbach could not contain himself any longer. He called Gelthuser
an arch-heretic who not only read Anabaptist books but even presumed to
improve on them. Beside himself with anger, he threatened to “help to
eradicate with fire and sword this book of Menno’s and all who are associated
with it.” If Gelthuser refused to go to Bern on his own, they “would force
him to go even if he would have to be carried in his bed,” or else he
would have him taken to jail.

Intimidated by this, Gelthuser finally
promised Wyttenbach that he would go to Bern the following day. At the
same time the incident confirmed Gelthuser’s worst fears. Later on Gelthuser
claimed that he had indeed seriously considered going to Bern to set matters
straight, since he knew that he never at any time had done anything wrong.

But at two o’clock the following night,
a man named Jörg Pöttäng warned Gelthuser a second time that “he should
not go to Bern because all the prisons and constables [bounty hunters]
were waiting for him there and that the mood in Bern was very hostile.”
The trap had been sprung by the Bernese clergymen, and their verdict was
already clear. Since Gelthuser clearly knew “what had happened to innocent
people through such prejudices in the past,” he opted finally against
the trip to Bern and, for the moment, went into hiding.

Gelthuser’s Flight to Solothurn (March 1582) and to
the Klettgau Region (April to June 1582)

It was likely
from a hiding place nearby that Gelthuser immediately appealed to Freiburg
via the council of Murten and lodged a complaint about the local mayor:
the mayor had threatened him and called him an Anabaptist simply because
Gelthuser had returned an Anabaptist book to an acquaintance; on the basis
of mere suspicions he was being removed as pastor! On March 23 the civil
authorities in Freiburg decided to send for the mayor and to ask him to
clarify matters in Bern.[29]

Already on Tuesday, March 22 Wyttenbach,
the mayor of Murten, informed Bern that he had indeed ordered Gelthuser
to go to Bern, as requested, but that Gelthuser had evaded this command
by fleeing to an Anabaptist physician in Solothurn.[30]
And, indeed, Gelthuser must have gone to Solothurn where he received treatment
for five days. It is also possible that during this stay Gelthuser came
into conversation with his friend and host about the best course to pursue.
It may have been upon the advice of the Anabaptist physician that Gelthuser
thereupon decided to become better acquainted with Anabaptism through
personal observation. It remains unclear, for the moment at least, if
he simply wanted to broaden his own knowledge and understanding of Anabaptism
so that he could better argue against it later on. It is clear, however,
that Gelthuser later used this argument to defend his behaviors to the
cantonal authorities. One can only speculate about the extent to which
Gelthuser harbored a genuine interest and sympathy for Anabaptism.

As Gelthuser was making a firm decision
to become better acquainted with Anabaptism on location in Solothurn,
the mayor of Murten proceeded to carry out an exhaustive raid on the parsonage,
in which he “broke into the study with force and searched through Gelthuser’s
entire library.” It appears that the search turned up additional Anabaptist
writings and books, which prompted the authorities in early April to confiscate
and sell all of Gelthuser’s possessions. After paying all of his debts,
the balance was to be given to his wife. Additionally, authorities in
Freiburg decided to inform officials in Solothurn about the proceedings.[31]

Their letter of April 10 was received in
Solothurn with astonishment and was answered on Easter Day. The news of
Gelthuser’s sojourn in Solothurn, they reported, was “very surprising
and disconcerting.” Gelthuser had not been seen in the city since he had
left the parsonage in Wangen; now, however, they would spare no energy
to track him down and capture him so that he “would pay according to what
he deserved.” Strangely-or perhaps tellingly’-no trace of this incident
can be found in the records. Yet the presence of an Anabaptist physician
in the city could have been possible only through the beneficence of an
influential patron. These circles must have protected this non-conformist
once more.[32]

After Gelthuser’s wife also apparently
lodged a complaint in Freiburg against the mayor, a letter arrived from
her husband from the Klettgau region, in which he asked her to join him
as soon as possible.[33]
Apparently with the permission of the authorities, Gelthuser’s wife joined
her husband. He apprised her of his effort to inform himself thoroughly
about Anabaptist teachings and practices before applying for a position
in the church.

“Not only [do I want to inform myself of those Anabaptists] living in
these parts,” he wrote, but much more of those who are in Austria and
in Moravia, where every year people from all the German territories are
led and misled. I have decided to undertake this so that later on I will
be able to write and teach concerning holy baptism all the better and
in more depth; after learning everything about what they do and what they
refuse to do, I will be able to warn many people to beware of their falsehood
and deception, and especially of the malevolence of the Hutterites, who
maliciously deceive many thousands every year.

Gelthuser-and for part of this time his
wife as well-stayed in Schaffhausen and in the Klettgau region for a total
of ten weeks. During this time he himself pursued a medical practice,
but on the side he also read extensively in Anabaptist writings, to which
he apparently had access without any problem. It is also clear that wherever
he went his reputation proceeded him as someone being persecuted by the
Swiss Reformed authorities for his Anabaptist faith. As a result, this
reputation opened many doors for him. “It was very advantageous for me,”
Gelthuser wrote, “that they already heard in advance how I had fallen
from the good graces of the authorities because of an Anabaptist book
and had to go into hiding because of it.”

The “Study Trip” of Jacob Gelthuser and his wife to
Moravia (1582)

Sometime in
June of 1582 Gelthuser and his wife traveled to Moravia as planned, leaving
behind some of their possessions in Schaffhausen.[34]
After visiting various Anabaptist groups in Moravia, the two returned
to the Schaffhausen area, probably before winter set in. Here they wanted
to sort through their impressions and experiences. From Pfullendorf they
seem to have resumed contact once more with the Anabaptists of the Swiss-South
German area.[35]

On December 16, 1582 Gelthuser and his
wife found their way to Zürich,[36]
where he immediately made contact with “several scholars,” to whom he
described his impressions and insights. His interlocutors were apparently
deeply impressed with Gelthuser’s presentation and believed that telling
his story more broadly would make a significant contribution to the government’s
struggle against both local Anabaptism and the missionary activities of
the Hutterian emissaries who were encouraging emigration to Moravia. Shortly
thereafter Rudolf Gwalther, the Zürich superintendent,[37]
even took it upon himself to write a letter of intercession to the mayor
of Murten on Gelthuser’s behalf. Gelthuser also declared himself ready
to write down all of his insights, “to describe everything and to have
it printed and published throughout the entire German Nation!”

Gelthuser’s Apologia (December 1582)

Of course,
it was in Gelthuser’s interest to justify and defend himself before the
Bernese government. Since, however, “it could be quite dangerous to do
this orally,” Gelthuser busily set about to compose a written defense.[38]
Inasmuch as he likely did not have the needed peace or leisure for this
in Zürich, Gelthuser apparently turned once again to his Anabaptist
friend, the physician in Solothurn. On December 28, 1582 Solothurn informed
Bernese authorities that Gelthuser had “found accommodations with a physician.”
By return mail Bern advised Solothurn to keep an eye on Gelthuser and
to try to arrest him. Similar arrest orders were issued at the same time
to Aarburg, Büren, Nidau, Gottstatt, Fraubrunnen, Landshut, Wangen,
Bipp, Aarwangen, Aarburg, Biberstein, Königsfelden and Lenzburg.[39]

Apparently because of rumors that had been set in circulation, Bern contacted
Basel on the same day with the request that the authorities should: check
all the printing shops to see if said Gelthuser is having something printed
there that would be contrary to evangelical teachings or to the good reputation
of my lords, and if they find anything, to suppress it and send the original
copy to us.[40]

It appears that Gelthuser had not yet been
located or prosecuted by the authorities since, between December 29 and
31, he was able to compose a comprehensive seven-page statement of self-defense,
which has already been cited several times above. The main concern of
the Apologia was obvious: Gelthuser wished to free himself from
the suspicion that he had converted to Anabaptism or that he had treated
the Anabaptists sympathetically. Gelthuser emphasized repeatedly that
his interest in learning to know more about Anabaptism had never implied
a departure from the Reformed confession. To the contrary, his sole purpose
had been to to warn others against Anabaptists, and to do so with greater
competence and expertise. To illustrate his point, Gelthuser recounted
in great detail the story of his first encounters with the Anabaptists,
his search for Anabaptist literature, his trip to the Palatinate, his
borrowing of Menno’s Fundamentbuch, the foiled attempt to return
the book, the order to appear in Bern, the conflict with the mayor of
Murten, his flight to Solothurn and to the Klettgau region, his investigatory
journey to Moravia and his return to Switzerland.

Gelthuser also did not miss the opportunity
to point out to authorities that he did not undertake this venture arrogantly
or flippantly. Rather, only “with the help of God had he been able to
complete this dangerous, difficult, costly and long journey.” Gelthuser
summarized the results of his study trip by noting that he had “observed
and experienced, read about and commented on, a wide variety of Anabaptist
sects and groups, who varied greatly one from another.” As a result, he
now knew what he was talking about and warning against![41]

In the last and shortest section of his
apology Gelthuser first reconfirmed his affirmation of the Second Helvetic
Confession of 1566, which he said he had already affirmed under oath in
1572 and from which he did not intend to deviate in the future.[42]
Second, he defended himself against the accusation that he had attempted
to improve upon-or offer an approval of-the confiscated Fundamentbuch
by writing notes in its margin and at the end of the text. Gelthuser
repudiated this as an absurd claim. Rather, it was a matter of: omissions,
errors, or improvements, since some words had not been properly understood
or had been overlooked when setting the type and which, after completing
the book, were then noticed and included at the end of the book, which
is a common practice, as learned people know.

With more good will and care, the people
in Bern would have noticed this, Gelthuser continued. Shifting to a counter-attack,
he claimed that they had read his “notes and corrections as if through
a mirror of rage.”

As for his confiscated letter to Maternus,
the Anabaptist teacher in the Palatinate, Gelthuser said that never once
in his writing did he refute the confession of faith in question. Rather,
he had simply wanted to return the book to his acquaintance, as agreed
upon, and to thank him for it.

Gelthuser was also very aware that it was
probably the following sentence from the final paragraph that had not
been understood: “I have learned much that is beneficial from this book,”
he had written; “may God grant that it will bear fruit in his time.” Two
things need to be said about this, Gelthuser continued. In the first place,
the learned Bernese authorities would have done better “to send him [Gelthuser]
secretly and in a friendly manner to the consistory or the theological
faculty, and to let them examine and discuss these religious issues among
themselves without making any more fuss about it.”

However, Gelthuser was not content to stop
with cautious criticism of the responsible ecclesiastical authorities
in Bern. Rather, he launched out with even greater force by saying that
church authorities in Bern had frequently handled similar issues in the
past discreetly and with great success:

This is what our former pious elders and
preceptors-Musculus, Hallerus, Weberus and Arelius-would have done, had
they still been alive.[43]
But those who now wield authority in the House of God create such a scandal
and a raucous fuss through the whole country since they and their “faithful”
servants are inclined only to beat up and mishandle others, as the servant
Mathej was wont to do on the 24th.

After this massive attack against his
own ecclesiastical superiors, Gelthuser turned to his second point, attempting
to explain the controversial sentence that was, to a large degree, most
responsible for the problems that emerged: “I have learned much that is
beneficial from this book; may God grant that it will bear fruit in his

According to Gelthuser, if they had only
asked him, they could have quickly learned what his true convictions were.
Gelthuser was of the firm opinion that:

I can learn something good and of value
from all writings, even those that are contrary to our confession of faith;
also what I have seen and experienced, especially among the various sects
in Moravia, have served me as a strong warning to be on my guard against
them [i.e., the Anabaptists] and to continue firmly and strongly in the
true faith giving thanks to God most high.

In a manner remarkably frank for his time,
Gelthuser was ready to test everything without fear of compromising his
beliefs and, in good New Testament style, to hold to what was good, i.e.,
to draw from it conclusions that would be beneficial.

At the conclusion of his apology Gelthuser renewed the offer of his service
to the Bernese authorities: And now I have arrived in this area of Switzerland
again, as stated above, and I am again ready to be of service in a church
or school, wherever there is the opportunity to proclaim our faith . .
. if more information is desired of me, I will obediently supply it, orally
or in writing.[45]

This offer may have come as a surprise
following his sharp criticism of the church authorities. One must remember,
of course, that his apology was not submitted to the ecclesiastical authorities
in Bern but to the political government. However, to the extent that these
two authorities were intertwined, Gelthuser had little reason to hope
that he could ever enter into the service of Bern again!

Gelthuser’s imprisonment and trial in Bern (January

By January
4, 1583 the Bernese government was already in possession of Gelthuser’s
apology. According to an entry in the logbook of the council, Gelthuser’s
wife had brought the manuscript to Bern. After examining the document,
the superior authority decided that “his wife should be informed that
the authorities had not asked them to move away, nor did they want to
tell them to return, and that he could come and go at his own discretion.”[46]

Whether Gelthuser then returned to Bern
voluntarily or whether he was tracked down somewhere and put in prison
is not clear from the extant documents. We do know, however, that he was
imprisoned in Bern by at least January 18, 1583. On this day the Bernese
authorities wrote to Murten, telling them that they had heard-probably
during the course of the interrogation!-that Gelthuser “had something
against holy baptism, that he had inserted something contrary to scriptures
in the baptism book and that he had spread other improper remarks against
the authorities.” The mayor was expected to inform himself about the matter
and to come directly to Bern to report on it.[47]

A detailed entry in the tower registry
of January 24, 1583 documents that Gelthuser was imprisoned in the “Insel”
jail beginning sometime in the middle of January at the latest. In the
extended trial that followed, Gelthuser was confronted with a long list
of accusations,[48]
including illegal possession of Anabaptist literature, writing a letter
to the Palatinate that showed outright friendliness towards the Anabaptists,
disobedience in refusing to obey an order to appear in Bern, and writing
and printing heretical documents. On the basis of all this evidence, Bern
was convinced that in Gelthuser they were dealing with “an open Anabaptist
and a seductive teacher.” In light of all this they also demanded more
information regarding the rumor that:

the Anabaptists in the Palatinate, in Moravia
and in the surrounding area had the custom of holding a parliament (Rÿchstag)
or a big meeting in Switzerland in May or before Easter.[49]

We have already noted how Gelthuser explained
the context for his trip to Moravia. Of even more interest here is the
additional information regarding Anabaptism of this period-some of it
highly informative and virtually unknown until now-that Gelthuser must
have given to his judges either voluntarily or involuntarily. He denied
the accusation that he himself had had any books printed:[50]

This is not true. Yes, it was the case
that an Anabaptist woman whom he attended in his capacity as a physician
did own a Bible different from ours. This Bible did not contain the principium
& finis, parentises [i.e., the beginning and the end, explanatory texts].
These books had been printed in Basel.[51]
He had admonished the woman for this and reproached her by saying that
they [i.e., the Anabaptists] were greatly in error. Likewise it was not
true that the Anabaptists in Thurgau had offered him money in payment
for translating the Bible from Latin and Greek into an easily understood
language. He himself had simply wanted to find out who had produced these
books; the Anabaptists in Thurgau own such books.

Thanks to Gelthuser’s concern to learn
to know the Anabaptists not only through the writings of their theological
opponents but also from their own books, we now learn additional new details.
Authorities considered the texts found when Gelthuser’s house in Murten
was searched “to be those of the physician in Solothurn; he had copied
from these writings, and from other books of an argumentative type so
that he could respond to them.”

Gelthuser emphasized here once more that
all of these copies as well as his trip to Moravia and the various visits
to Anabaptists en route: had only been undertaken so that he would be
able to better oppose them in his writings and to counter their arguments
on the basis of more accurate information; not that he desired to bring
something new back into this land!

Gelthuser also made some interesting comments
about the very successful journeys of the Hutterian emissaries to Switzerland,
known to have begun in the early 1580s. Since this passage contains a
great amount of information, a longer excerpt follows:[52]

The situation is thus: Every year the Hutterites,
who number a total of about 34,000, living in only 67 households, send
six delegates to the Rhine, six to the Bregenzer Forest,[53]
six to Lake Constance and six to Switzerland. These missioners customarily
come into our area in the spring, arriving in our country towards the
end of March. Those who come to Switzerland, however, and especially those
who come into Your Grace’s territory [i.e., Bern] stay in Geysberg close
to Lütwÿl[54]
and at an estate at Zofingen, where the husband is not an Anabaptist,
but his wife is. There they hold meetings and conduct classes.[55]
Additionally, the missioners receive lodging in the county of Lenzburg
from a landlord in Bülach, called Pangratz. This landlord has a brother
who last year led 23 people from the dominion of Lenzburg on the Rhine
to Moravia. Most important, however, the Anabaptists gather at Zofingen
in the Baanacher region for preaching.[56]
One of the most important, best known and therefore most dangerous advocates
of this seductive teaching is a Bernese subject commonly called Andreas
Glur, an old man who resides at Wikon.[57]
At Schaffhausen the Anabaptists come to the inn called “Zum Schiff,” where
the innkeeper changes money for them. Hans Hotzj [Holzj’] of Altstetten
had given him [i.e., Gelthuser] this information about meeting places
and their locations.[58]
This Hotzj himself was one of the six missioners dispatched to Switzerland,
and he knows very well that last year these emissaries infected approximately
600 individuals with this deceptive teaching and took them to Moravia!

At the very end of this hearing Gelthuser
insisted yet again that he was not an Anabaptist and that “he had undertaken
the trip to Moravia only for the above mentioned reasons, that is, to
investigate their motives and arguments in order to better write against
them [i.e., the Anabaptists] and to refute their articles of faith.”

At the same time, however, he acknowledged
that he was guilty, in that he had gone too far and done things from which
he should have abstained. And for this reason he pleads most earnestly
for gracious forgiveness from His Grace (i.e., the government), promising
at the same time “to conduct himself in a manner beyond reproach in the

The entry in the dungeon registry concludes
with these brief and laconic words: “Was exiled under oath from the city
and from the canton.”

A brief note in the Bernese city council’s
manual of the following day, January 25, confirms this decision: “Jacob
Gelthuser, former associate pastor of Murten, was exiled from the city
and the area of Bern under oath.”[59]
Lenzburg was instructed to arrest without delay all the Anabaptists mentioned
by Gelthuser who were under their administration.[60]

Unfortunately it is not clear where Gelthuser
and his wife went.[61]
Was Gelthuser later forgiven by the Bernese authorities and restored once
again to his office as pastor’[62]
Or did Gelthuser turn to neighboring Reformed territories and take up
a new life there? Did he place his hopes on Zurich, where the authorities
were obviously more favorably inclined? And what were his further relationships
with Anabaptism? Did he, in fact, become an active opponent of Anabaptism
in his writings’[63]
If indeed, his writings-or even merely his conversations-were opposed
to Anabaptism, and especially if he warned against moving to Moravia as
he repeatedly said he had, then he might have lost all of these earlier
contacts. Only a better and more comprehensive knowledge of the sources
can answer these questions.

Additional information about the Anabaptist
physician in Solothurn would be of special interest, for he clearly played
a key role in the Gelthuser affair and seems to have been a central figure
for an understanding of Anabaptism of that time. What was the nature of
the relationship between him and Gelthuser after 1583? And in the event
that Gelthuser was not reinstated as a pastor, did he then conceivably
become more active in his second occupation, the healing arts?


This investigation began with an inquiry
into the relationship between the Dutch Mennonites and Swiss Anabaptists.
More precisely, it focused on the surprise appearance of the German edition
of Menno’s Fundamentbuch of 1575 in the South German-Swiss area.
The Gelthuser story makes it clear that, by at least the early 1580s,
the Anabaptists of the Palatinate regarded this publication as a legitimate
representative summary of Anabaptist teachings that could also be passed
on to outside inquirers. On the other hand, the Gelthuser incident does
not speak to the question of how the Swiss Anabaptists evaluated Menno’s
theology. In this context we face the question of whether Gelthuser was
possibly the writer of the earlier mentioned Bernese Codex, which contains
copies of Menno’s texts. A careful comparison of Gelthuser’s handwriting
with that of Codex 693 fails, unfortunately, to support this speculation.
Gelthuser seems not to be the author of the copies in question.[64]

To what extent did the Swiss Anabaptists
know about Menno’s Fundamentbuch in the early 1580s? If they had
been less distrustful, could Gelthuser have obtained it from them, thus
eliminating the need for his trip to the Palatinate?

The Anabaptist physician of Solothurn is
of renewed interest. What Anabaptist writings were in his possession in
the early 1580s? And which of these texts did he place at the disposal
of Gelthuser so that he could study and copy them? Gelthuser declares
that most of the Anabaptist writings found in his house in Murten came
from this physician or from his collection of books. Accordingly, this
exchange of literature would already have taken place before Gelthuser’s

While considering these books and copies,
the interesting question of their possible present location must be raised:
Where did the books and texts confiscated in Gelthuser’s house in Murten
end up? What happened to the copies and the books that originated with
Gelthuser between the time he fled and his imprisonment? Did they fall
into the hands of the Swiss authorities, too? And what happened to the
Solothurn physician’s holdings of Anabaptist writings, obviously an extensive

There is hardly a doubt in my mind that
an answer to these questions would bring us considerably closer to a clearer
understanding of the nature of Swiss Anabaptism at the turn of the sixteenth
to the seventeenth century. Furthermore, I think that that both Gelthuser
and the physician of Solothurn were representatives of a group of individuals
who were committed to dialogue and encounter that crossed confessional
boundaries in an attempt “to test everything and to hold to what is good.”[66]
It is unfortunate that this dialogue has hardly continued in a serious
manner in the succeeding decades and centuries, neither at the initiative
of the Reformed Church nor of the Anabaptists. – TRANSLATED BY GERHARD

Jecker teaches at the Bienenberg Theological Seminary, Liestal, Switzerland.
This essay first appeared in Mennonitica Helvetica 20 (1997), 33-56;
it is reprinted here in a slightly revised form. Return to Text

. These differences
were more fundamental in matters of Christology, since the debated question
concerned the relationship between the divinity and the humanity of Christ.
Above all, these differences could be seen and felt in the practical debates
within the church (Gemeinde) when dealing with excommunication
and avoidance (Bann und Meidung). In this context the doctrine
of incarnation and the practice of avoidance are obviously closely linked.
The greater the emphasis among the Dutch Anabaptists on the purity of
Christ as related to his godliness, the more rigorous the application
of excommunication and avoidance. Both Christ as the Lord of the church,
and the church as the bride of Christ, must be found without spot or blemish.
The Upper German-Swiss Anabaptists, by contrast, advocated moderation
in the practice of avoidance, especially if it involved the separation
of marriage partners.-Heinold Fast, “Wie sind die oberdeutschen Täufer
‘Mennoniten’ geworden'” Mennonitische Geschichtsblätter 43/44 (1986/87),
esp. 85ff. Return to Text

. The German title of the corresponding
letter dated January 23, 1559 is “Eine sehr gründliche Antwort voll von
allerlei Unterweisungen und guten Ermahnungen, auf Zylis und Lemmekes
unverdiente und lästerliche Ehrabschneidungen und Nachreden […] von
Menno Simons.”-Menno Simons, Vollständige Werke (Aylmer, ON: Pathway
Publishers, 1971), 401-08. Return to Text

. For the Swiss Anabaptists maintaining
this contact subsequently proved to be extremely important and beneficial
at a very different undogmatic level. Regardless of existing theological
differences, the Dutch Mennonites informed themselves increasingly about
the continuing fate of their persecuted fellow believers in the South.
Having achieved recognition and, to some extent, wealth and influence
as members of their society, the Dutch Mennonites intervened repeatedly
throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the Swiss authorities
on behalf of their distressed fellow believers. Probably as a result of,
and in the context of, this extensive aid, an intense-albeit quite unilateral-theological
exchange resulted. Along with financial and material aid, the Dutch Mennonites
increasingly send devotional literature and theological texts to the Alsace
and Switzerland. The influence of these materials upon the brethren in
the South must not be under-estimated. In the context of the origin of
the Amish towards the end of the seventeenth century, at the very latest,
some of the old theological differences crop up again.-Cf. articles by
Hanspeter Jecker and Leonard Gross in Les Amish: origine et particularismes
1693-1993. Actes du colloque international de Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines,
19-21 aot 1993 (Ingersheim : Association Française d’Histoire Anabaptiste-Mennonite,
1996), 202-26 and 227-52 respectively. Return to Text

. See Burgerbibliothek Bern (BBBE),
Codex Ms. 693. Cf. Heinold Fast, “Pilgram Marpeck und das oberdeutsche
Täufertum,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 47 (1956), 241, and
Fast, “Wie sind die oberdeutschen Täufer ‘Mennoniten’ geworden'” 93f.
Return to Text

. Surprisingly, Anabaptist research
has barely paid attention to the happenings described in the following
text. Clear reference to these in some older manuscripts has obviously
passed unnoticed.-Cf., especially, Ernst Flückiger, “Reformation in der
gemeinen Herrschaft Murten und die Geschichte der reformierten Kirche
im Murtenbiet und im Kanton Freiburg,” Gedenkschrift zur Murtner
Reformationsfeier 1930 (s.l., s.a.), 117-20. Also, Heinrich Türler,
“Aus dem ältesten Eherodel von Murten,” Neues Berner Taschenbuch auf
das Jahr 1904 (Bern: K. J. Wy, 1903), 230ff. Return to Text

. Hans Georg Wackernagel, ed.,
Die Matrikel der Universität Basel, 4 vols. (Basel, 1951), 2: 100.
Cf. also the information about a theology student by the name of Isaac
Gelthuser of Läufelfingen, possibly the brother of Jacob (see below) who
also studied in Basel between 1558 and 1562.-Ibid., 117. Return to

. Hans Gelthuser, a native (Lantkind)
of Entfelden, also appears as Johannes Illfeld (also as Ylfeld, Elfeld
or Entfelder) in contemporary sources. He was the illegitimate son of
Rudolf Ricker, priest of Liestal, who served as pastor in Tenniken (Baselland)
from 1527 to 1553. From 1522 to 1524 Hans Gelthuser (or Illfeld), served
as schoolmaster in Liestal and as paster of Lausen, and from 1524 to 1541
as deacon and assistant pastor in Liestal; beginning 1536, simultaneously,
also as pastor of Munzach und Frenkendorf-Füllinsdorf. Because of differences
of opinion with the main pastor of Liestal, Johannes Bruwiler, Hans Gelthuser
transferred to the Reformed pastorate at Läufelfingen.-Karl Gauss, Basilea
Reformata (Basel, 1930), 90f, 128 and Karl Gauss, “Munzach-Ein
verschwundenes Baselbieterdorf,” Tagblatt der Landschaft (1930),
17ff., as well as Reiner Jansen, Munzach-Frenkendorf-Füllinsdorf. Geschichte
einer Kirchgemeinde (Liestal, 1976), 25ff. He is already mentioned
as assistant pastor of Aarau in 1543 and finally as pastor of Seon from
1544 to 1558.-Willy Pfister, Die Prädikanten des bernischen Aargaus
im 16. – 18. Jahrhundert 1528-1798 (Zürich, 1943), 53 and 126.
Return to Text

. Pfister, Die Prädikanten
des bernischen Aargaus, 75. Return to Text

. Staatsarchiv Basel-Land (StABL)
Kirchen E9, Liestal 1, 211r. The Liestal registry of baptisms and marriages
begins in 1542. The only “Agatha” mentioned (as a godmother) in the Liestal
church registry for those years is Agatha Murerin (26v, 28v). Was she
possibly Gelthuser’s wife? Return to Text

. Basler Matrikel II, 100.
Cf. also, Carl Friedrich Ludwig Lohner, Die reformierten Kirchen
und ihre Vorsteher im eidgenössischen Freistaate Bern (Thun, 1884),
654. Return to Text

. The two most important sources
for the following report are: (a) Apologia Iacobi Gelthuseri Liechtstalensis:
das ist Warhaffter unnd grundtlicher bericht, welcher gstalt unnd Ursachen
Er zu Murtten vertrieben worden, auch was durch Jhnne erkundiget: Neben
bestendiger Glaubenserkantnus und bekantnus: Alls zu schirm der warheit
hiebej Inn geschrifft gestellt. Annj 1582. Den 29 Decembris, Staaatsarchiv
Fribourg (StAFR), Murtenbuch B, pp. 461-67 (hereafter, Apologia);
(b) Protokoll des Verhörs von Jacob Gelthuser in Bern vom 24. Januar 1583
gemäss Eintrag im Turmbuch. StABE, Vol. 9, p. 445, 1r-6v (hereafter, Verhör).
Return to Text

. Cf. Verhör, 2r. Return
to Text

. To date I have not satisfactorily
succeeded in identifying this physician (although note the explanations
at the end of this article). Concerning the presence of Anabaptist physicians
in the Solothurn area, see Gotthold Appenzeller, “Solothurner Täufertum
im 16. Jahrhundert,” Festschrift Eugen Tatarinoff (Solothurn: Historischer
Verein des Kantons Solothurn, 1938), 116f, and “Beiträge zur Geschichte
des Solothurner Täufertums,” Jahrbuch für Solothurner Geschichte,
14 (1991). For the topic in general, see Benno Flueler, “rzte, Apotheker,
Chirurgen und Hebammen im alten Stande Solothurn 1481-1798,” Jahrbuch
für Solothurner Geschichte, 24 (1951), 1-89. Additional research is
required to ascertain the relationship, as established for the year 1590,
between the physician of Burgäschi to the “doctor” being sought in Solothurn
in 1590s. Concerning the overall importance of Anabaptist physicians for
the movement, see Hanspeter Jecker, Ketzer-Rebellen-Heilige. Das Basler
Täufertum von 1580-1700 (Liestal: Verlag des Kantons Basel-Landschaft,
1998), 207-11. Return to Text

. Beginning in the 1560s, Niklaus
Zedo of Bümpliz was one of the most authoritative Anabaptist teachers
in the Bern area. His radius of activity reached from the Oberland and
the Emmental far into the Mittelland and included at the least also the
areas of Solothurn and Friburg. Zedo was captured in 1575 for the first
time, but was able to escape. Towards the end of 1580 he was incarcerated
for a second time. The death sentence pronounced at first was not enforced,
possibly because of public opinion, but also perhaps because of the hope
that he might yet change his opinion. Indeed, Zedo showed signs of wanting
to recant. In December 1580 he succeeded anew in fleeing.-Mennonitisches
Lexikon, 4:586f. I have not been able to identify Köderli; is he
possibly the same as Zedo? Return to Text

. Obviously an early printing
of the Schleitheim Confession of 1527 (“Brüderliche Vereinigung”).-Quellen
zur Geschichte der Täufer in der Schweiz, 2:26-36. Return
to Text

. See the entry in the Murtener
Kirchenbuch (StAFR RP 244, 33): “On May 13, 1578 I, Jacobus Gelthuserus
of Liechstal [i.e. Liestal], was called to Murten as a German preacher,
departing from Wangen on Tuesday June 3, arriving on Wednesday around
five o’clock in the afternoon.” Murten belonged to the area that was jointly
administered by the cantons of Bern and Freiburg.-Roland Ruffieux, ed.
Geschichte des Kantons Freiburg (Freiburg, 1981), 1:330ff.
For Gelthuser cf. also Lohner, Die reformierten Kirchen und
ihre Vorsteher, 509, also the article by Türler, “Aus dem ältesten
Eherodel von Murten.” Nevertheless, Gelthuser seems not to have felt very
comfortable in Murten, for already on March 15, 1581 he applied for the
vacant pastoral position at Munzach, a position his father had earlier
held. In spite of the recommendations of Schultheiss and the council of
Liestal, the authorities of Basel shortly thereafter gave preference to
another applicant.-StABL L.2 Liestaler Amt, vol. 38, no. 1; Jansen, Munzach-Frenkendorf-Füllinsdorf,
26ff. Return to Text

. For the following cf. Apologia,
461. Return to Text

. There must have been at least
one more meeting between Gelthuser and the Anabaptists at the beginning
of his tenure in Murten. Apparently Gelthuser’s acquaintance, Niklaus
Zedo, the well known Anabaptist teacher, had a brother named Maritz (Moritz’)
living in Murten, whom he visited occasionally, even after his own official
banishment. During one of Niklaus Zedo’s visits to Murten, Gelthuser was
invited to this brother’s house. Despite initial hesitation to accept
this invitation, he finally agreed to go. Typically, Gelthuser did not
inform the authorities about this incident, even though he knew very well
that they were trying to locate Zedo. In any event, Gelthuser appears
to have approached the Anabaptist teacher about this when he asked him,
“warumb er, diewÿl er wüsse, wie sÿne Sachenn gestalltet, unnd
das er ü.g. Statt unnd lannd nit bruchenn sölle, ü.g. Lannd durchwanndle,
unnd widerumb Inn dz lannd komme” (why, even though he knew the state
of his affairs, that he was not supposed to take advantage of the state,
he yet continued to travel everywhere and return as he pleased).-Verhör,
2v. Return to Text

. Verhör, 2v. The following
context makes it clear that “Pillico” refers to Billigheim (-Ingenheim),
located a few kilometers south of Landau. Return to Text

. Apologia, 461 and
Verhör, 2v. Melchior Mader (Mattern) of Oberingelheim can be traced
as an Anabaptist in the Palatinate as late as 1590 and 1603.-Quellen
zur Geschichte der Täufer, vol. 4: Baden und Pfalz (Gütersloh,
1951), 232 and 238f. Return to Text

. Staatsarchiv Solothurn (StASO),
Freiburgschreiben AF 9.3.55, for a copy of Gelthuser’s letter to Maternus.
Return to Text

. Hans Herli was pastor of
Gottstatt (on the Aare River between Biel and Büren) from 1580 to 1583;
he was removed in 1583.-Lohner, Die reformierten Kirchen und
ihre Vorsteher, 492. Return to Text

. It is not clear where Gelthuser
acquired this medical knowledge. On the other hand, his activities as
a physician might be one reason for his acquaintance with the Anabaptist
doctor in Solothurn. Gelthuser’s special interest in the healing arts
likewise is obvious from numerous references in the church registry of
Murten, with comments about official acts relating to physicians, barbers
or managers of baths.-Türler, “Aus dem ältesten Eherodel von Murten,”232f.
Return to Text

. StASO Freiburgschreiben AF
9.3., pp. 53ff. The fact that Gelthuser addressed this letter of recommendation
to Maternus suggests that the Anabaptist “Schull der Jugend,” i.e., school
for the young people, was probably planned for a location close to where
Maternus lived or that it already existed there. Ramberg possibly refers
to the village by that name located a few kilometers to the northwest
of Landau. It is of interest that this young man had already appropriated
Anabaptist ideas to the extent that Gelthuser requested Maternus to have
his community of faith test the young man from Gottstatt to determine
“to what extent, over time, he becomes one of you and devoted to you.”
For the whole background cf. Verhör, 3v and Apologia, 462.
Return to Text

. StABA, Ratsmanuale (RM) 274,
195. Return to Text

. Apologia, 482 mentions
“Hauptwee” (headaches); in the Bernese Verhör, Gelthuser mentions
“Scharröti” (scarlet fever). Return to Text

. See the description in Apologia,
462f., and Verhör, 3v-4v. Return to Text

. Johannes Sybold, earlier
pastor at Mett (1559ff.) and Frauenkappelen (1564f.), served in Kerzers
between 1565 and 1587. During the final years of his life (1587-1595)
he was pastor of Wohlen, the last five years as dean of the chapter of
Büren. Return to Text

. StAFR RM, 123 and 175. Return
to Text

. StAFR, Murtenbuch B, 473.
This must be the same person at whose house Gelthuser had already met
with a group of Anabaptists towards the end of the 1570s. Return to

. StAFR Ratsmanuale (RM), 123,
200 and 213f. The writing from Freiburg includes, along with the actual
missive, a copy of the letter from Gelthuser to Maternus as a supplement.-STASO,
Freiburgschreiben AF 9.3, 53-55. Return to Text

. StASO Missiven AB 1.40.,
pp. 53f. Possibly Johann Jacob vom Staal, state secretary for Solothurn
for many years, was one of the protectors of certain Anabaptists. Well
known from earlier times are his contacts with certain Dutchmen from the
vicinity of David Joris at the Birtishof in the Beinwilertal at Passwang.-
Paul Burckhardt, “David Joris,” Basler Biographien (Basel: Freunde
vaterländischer Geschichte, 1900), 1:105 and 154); cf. also the edition
of Liber Amicorum des Johann Jacob von Staal by Rolf Max Kully
and Hans Rindisbacher). As recorder of the council and writer of the missives
of that time, he may well have played a not insignificant role in influencing
the council on which actions to pursue and which to abandon. Return
to Text

. StAFR, RM, 123 and 213f.,
as well as Apologia, 464 and Verhör, 4v for the wider context.
Return to Text

. Gelthuser mentions a certain
“Martti Alben” to whom the baggage had been entrusted. Is he possibly
the innkeeper of ‘Zum Schiff,’ well known money changer for transient
Anabaptists’-Verhör, 4v and 6r. Return to Text

. Pfullendorf is about halfway
between Schaffhausen and Ulm. Return to Text

. Apologia, 465. Return
to Text

. Rudolf Gwalther (1519-1586),
successor to Bullinger as superintendent of the church of Zürich, beginning
1575. Return to Text

. Apologia, 465. Return
to Text

. StABE RM 275, 407. Return
to Text

. I am not aware of a response
from Basel. Return to Text

. Apologia, 464f. Return
to Text

. Probably at the point when
he assumed office as assistant pastor of Brugg on July 10, 1572.- Pfister,
Die Prädikanten des bernischen Aargaus, 75; Cf. Apologia,
465ff. Return to Text

. Death dates of the following:
Berchtold Haller, the Bernese reformer, 1536; Wolfgang Musculus (Müslin),
professor of theology, 1563; Benedict Aretius (Marti), 1574; Johannes
Waeber, pastor at the Münster church, 1574. Return to Text

. Either Gelthuser had a copy
of the letter at his disposal or he had a very precise memory, for the
actual wording was very similar. Return to Text

. Apologia, 467. Return
to Text

. StABE RM 276, 3. A note indicates
that this may have come to Bern via Liestal. Return to Text

. StABE RM 276, 47.1 Return
to Text

. This article already contains
numerous citations from this Verhör, i.e., trial (StABE B IX 445,
1r-6v). Return to Text

. Verhör, 1v. Return
to Text

. Cf. Verhör 5r for
the following. Return to Text

. Reference could be to the
following edition: “Das gantz Neüwe Testament / grundtlich und wol verteutschet
/ nach Hebreischer / Griechischer und Latinischer sprach. Auch gezieret
mit viel schoenen und notwendigen Concordantzen. Gedruckt zu Basel / durch
Brylingers erben / im jar.1579.” It seems that none of the specialists
in Anabaptist Bibles knew about this printing. It was only after a copy
of this edition was discovered at the Mennonite Historical Library in
Goshen in 1979 that a short description of it appears in the relevant
literature.-David Luthy, “Anabaptist Testaments and the ‘Lord’s Prayer,'”
Family Life (June, 1980), 20; Isaac Zürcher, “Die Täuferbibeln,”
Informationsblätter 6 (1983), 28f. This is all the more surprising
inasmuch as the copy found in Goshen can by no means claim to be the only
known copy in existence. The university library in Basel has a long-forgotten
copy of this edition at its disposal under the catalog number “FR.-GR.
A VIII 35.” More information on this appears in Jecker, Ketzer-Rebellen-Heilige,
141. Return to Text

. Verhör, 5v-6v. Return
to Text

. Bregenzerwald, southeast
of Lake Constance. Concerning Anabaptism at that location, see Gismann-Fiel
Hildegund, Das Täufertum in Vorarlberg (Dornbirn), 1982. Return
to Text

. Probably the hamlet of Geissberg
between Schmidrued and Schlossrued about 7 kilometers southwest of Leutwil
or it could be referring to fields or farms named Geisshof (close to Gontenschwil)
or Geissbühl (close to Oberkulm), both likewise in the immediate vicinity
west of Leutwil. Return to Text

. This kind of centralizing
function in the context of midland Anabaptism of that time most likely
applies to the hamlet of Finsterthüelen located to the east of Oftringen.-Cf.
Hanspeter Jecker, “‘Zum ersten vor unser eigen Thüren wüschen.’ Hans Jacob
Boll’s Mahnschrift von 1615 wider die Täuferverfolgungen,” in Michael
Erbe, et.al, Querdenken. Dissens und Toleranz im Wandel der Geschichte.
Festschrift Hans R. Guggisberg (Mannheim, 1996), 347-62. Also Annelies
Hüssy, Oftringen: Die Geschichte eines Dorfes (Oftringen, 1994).
For an overview see also the index of place names in Jecker, Ketzer-Rebellen-Heilige,
270-334, 658-64. Return to Text

. The name of a field west
of rkheim on the road leading to Zofingen via Hinterwil. Return to

. Andreas Glur of Birrwil already
had an official position in Aarburg in the 1570s. He was imprisoned in
1580, however, and taken to Bern.-Jakob Heiz, Die Täufer im Aargau
(Aarau, 1902), 164. He must have gotten free again. He (his son’) and
his wife are again listed as Anabaptists in the Chorgerichtsmanual,
Staatsarchiv Aargau, Aarburg Kirchenbücher, Chorgerichtsmanual, 1576-1603,
202f. Return to Text

. The identity of this person
and his place of origin are unknown to me. Does it refer to Altstätten
in the Rhine valley of Sankt Gallen or to Altstetten close to Zürich?
And is there possibly a kinship connection to the leader of earlier Zürich
Anabaptism, Hans Hotz von Grüningen’-Cf. the diverse references in the
Personenregister, or index of names, in QGTS I, II and IV,
and also ML 2:351f. Return to Text

. StABE RM 276, 70. Return
to Text

. Cf. the supplements in StABE
RM 276, 78 (Jan. 29, 1583). Return to Text

. In Murten they already looked
for a successor to Gelthuser by the end of April 1592 (StAFR Murtenbuch
B, 479). Subsequently Peter Schnell, previously pastor at Grindelwald,
was installed.-Lohner, Die reformierten Kirchen und ihre Vorsteher,
509. Return to Text

. Flückiger, “Reformation in
der gemeinen Herrschaft Murten,”mentions the parish of Kulm in Aargau,
beginning 1582, as Gelthuser’s later field of work. Flückiger probably
used Lohner, Die reformierten Kirchen und ihre Vorsteher,
509, as his source. This information appears incorrect. According to Pfister,
Die Prädikanten des bernischen Aargaus, 97, Emanuel Kissling was
the pastor in Kulm until 1583. However, Jacob Gelthuser did not succeed
Kissling beginning in February 1583; instead it was the same Johannes
Bullinger who had been called to Wangen five years earlier to succeed
Gelthuser and had since then officiated there. Return to Text

. Is Gelthuser possibly the
author of the memorandum opposing emigration to Moravia, dated 1583, of
which there is a copy in the Zürcher Zentralbibliothek (Ms. A 72, pp.
371-381 and Ms B 163, No. 11)? Return to Text

. Fast, “Pilgram Marpeck und
das oberdeutsche Täufertum,” 241, had earlier suspected that Codex 693
might have been written by the same person as were the various entries
in the inside covers of the Kunstbuch (Codex 494), which are possibly
by a later owner of the book by the name of “Jacob.” On the basis of recent,
more careful handwriting analyses, Fast is more hesitant on this matter
(letter from Fast dated Nov. 2, 1996). I am inclined to believe that Jacob
Gelthuser left traces of his handwriting neither in the copies of Menno’s
writings contained in Codex 693 nor in the inner covers of Codex 494.
Return to Text

. Some of the diverse Anabaptist
codices from around 1600 could have something to do with this, especially
since some are stored in archives and libraries in Bern. Because of space,
I shall not go into detail about the truly astonishing connections and
cross references of content and personnel of some of the Anabaptist manuscripts
located in Bern and elsewhere. As one significant example, an Anabaptist
physician also plays a key role: Hans Jacob Boll who is, unfortunately,
virtually unknown.-Jecker, Ketzer-Rebellen-Heilige, 270-334 which
goes well beyond what I said about Boll in my earlier essay. Return
to Text

. Perhaps this readiness for
dialogue by at least some of the Anabaptists is clearly related to the
existence and the continuing influence of Marpeck’s circles, which seem
to have been present into the early 1600s.-Jecker, Ketzer-Rebellen-Heilige,
326 and Arnold Snyder, “The (Not-So) ‘Simple Confession’ of the Swiss
Brethren. Part I: Manuscripts and Marpeckites in Age of Print,” MQR
73 (October, 1999), 677-722 and the second part of his essay with the
sub-title “The Evolution of Separatist Anabaptism” published elsewhere
in this issue of MQR. 24 The Mennonite Quarterly Review 31 Test
Everything – Hold Fast to What is Good 7

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