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A concordance (in Latin, Concordantia-agreement), is a reference book used as an aid in the study of the Scriptures. With the spread of printed Bibles in the vernacular these books became rather popular, allowing a more intensive checking of the Scrip­tural texts and making the use of the Bible easier and more meaningful. There are two types of Bible concordances, verbal and topical. The first type is organized as an alphabetical index of all the chief words used in the Bible together with their locations (Bible register), while the second is organized according to key concepts with corre­sponding passages indicated. The wide use of con­cordances in the Reformation period reflects the Biblicistic interests of the masses, in contrast to the spiritualizing tendencies of certain intellectuals who tended to minimize Scriptural studies or arguments and rely on direct inspiration. Since the Anabaptists and Mennonites were Biblicists, they showed a particular interest in such books, which to them were not only Bible indexes but to some extent real guides through the Bible for under­standing and for arguing in disputations. This is particularly true with regard to the topical con­cordances, which are almost Bible "anthologies," in which selections are made according to certain theological and devotional principles.

The very first concordance is that made by Cardinal Hugo of St. Cher, about A.D. 1230, in Latin, of course. The first printed concordance was the Latin one by Conrad, printed at Strasbourg in 1470. The oldest known German printed con­cordance was made by Jörg Birckmeier, Ein Zeiger­büchlein der Heiligen Geschrift, printed by Froschauer at Zürich in 1525 (24 leaves, 8°), a verbal concordance which later was added to all editions of the Froschauer Bible. A copy can be found in the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen.

The next work of the same type is a book by Leonhard Brunner, Konkordanz und Zeiger der Sprüch und Historien aller biblischen Bücher (Worms, 1529, and Strasbourg, 1530), a folio volume of 268 leaves. It is said that the author's views were near those of Hans Denck and Ludwig Haetzer, whose translation of the Prophets he used. The work does not reveal any originality but is very elaborate. For example, the heading Zeit contains three columns of quotations dealing with "time." It was a popular, dictionary-­like verbal concordance and saw one more folio edition in 1546 (Strasbourg) and one further con­densed edition (in 12°) in 1567 in Basel. The Hutterite brother Ambrosy Resch (d. 1592) copied and enlarged this work, adding texts from the Apocrypha, thus creating a folio codex of 1,046 handwritten leaves (now in Bratislava). Only three other German verbal concordances of the 16th century are known: J. Danreuter (1561); P. Gedultig (1571); and M. Vogel (1587), although 44 Latin verbal concordances appeared during the century.

A very early topical concordance, almost surely of Anabaptist origin, is the Concordanz und Zeiger der namhafftigsten Sprüch aller Biblischen Bücher alts und news Testaments (presumably of the 1530s or 1540s). In 1560, a Dutch translation appeared, while several more German edi­tions subsequently came out; one around 1600 (with 368 pages small size) of which a copy is in the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen, then in 1693 and again in 1709. In none of the editions is the place of printing named, but it was most likely Basel or the Palatinate. Since this concordance first appeared together with several Anabaptist tracts and later became popular with the Swiss Brethren its Ana­baptist origin is strongly suggested. Georg Thormann in his polemical Probierstein . . . des Täuferturns (Bern, 1693) expressly states that "the Breth­ren made so much ado with their concordance booklet" (he may have had the edition of 1693 in mind), which suggests the Swiss origin of this work. It has not more than 66 topics, yet the very selection of them reveals an alert and devoted brother at work. The article Verfolgung (persecu­tion) covers 18 pages; the article on "False Proph­ets and anti-Christ" covers 24 pages of quotations. Old and New Testament are quoted without dis­tinction. In general, however, the Anabaptists pre­fer the New Testament. (See an English translation of this work in the bibliography.)

No concordance of official Protestant origin is known before the 17th century, but we know of several more such books of Anabaptist background. There once existed the Ratsbüchlein of Hans Hut, written about 1525-1527, which the authori­ties found in the knapsack of Eitelhans Langenmantel at his arrest; it contained a cate­chism, a prayer, and a concordance of 78 entries (Zeitschrift des Hist. Ver. f. Schwaben, 1900, 39; also 1874). Hans Hut at his trial acknowledged the authorship of the booklet.

Another outstanding concordance of Anabaptist origin is Pilgram Marpeck's great anonymously published Testamentserläuterung of 1544 (417 leaves, 4°). It is a topical concordance of 125 chapters, juxtaposing texts of the Old and the New Testament (called "yesterday" and "today"). We do not know too much about the spread of this work, of which only two copies are known (in Zürich and Berlin), but apparently it was much read among South German Anabaptists, as references to it prove. Wiswedel (Blätter für württ. Kirchengeschichte, 1937) conjectures that it was the work not of Marpeck alone but of an entire group of earnest Bible students.

The Hutterites, too, had quite a number of such concordances among their manuscript books; yet it is next to impossible to trace the origin of most of these books. We know that one brother copied and enlarged the Brunner concordance. One codex (now in the Hungarian National Museum in Buda­pest), a topical concordance, is certainly a copy of a non-Hutterite work of high originality. Another codex concordance is of 1567 and still another of 1578, perhaps a copy of the Concordanzbüchlein mentioned above. (All these codices are listed in Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte., 1931, 226-27.)

The topical concordance presupposes a certain creative editor; sometimes he does not feel bound to the alphabetic arrangement, and some of these books are rather diversified and arbitrary in their organization. Pilgram Marpeck's Testamentserläuterung, for instance, is of this kind. Sebastian Franck, himself not an Anabaptist but much read among the Brethren, published two works of this kind: the Güldin Arch, 1538, and Das Verbütschierte Buch, 1539. Both works are rather Bible "an­thologies," arranged according to certain selected principles, sometimes demonstrating existing apparent contradictions within the Scriptures (the so-called Schriftkrieg).

The most extensive concordance of the topical type is the outstanding Dutch production by Pieter Jansz Twisck, the leader of the strict Dutch Mennonite group of the Old Frisians, Con­cordantie der Heylighen Schrifturen. . . . This work appeared first in 1615 at Hoorn as a large folio volume of 1,056 pages, and was reprinted in 1648 (at Haarlem). It is the work of an outstand­ing student of the Bible, and can be called a real guide through the Scriptures. In 1632, Twisck published a sequel to it, the Bybelsch Naem ende Chronijck boeck (Schijn, Hermann. Uitvoeriger Verhandeling van de Geschiedenisse der Mennoniten. Amsterdam: Kornelis de Wit, 1745, 518). Twisck also published Na Beter. Een corte gheestelijcke verclaringhe vanden hoge Priester Aaron zijn Persoon, doen, Kledinghe, Borst-lap officie, Amt ende offerhänden . . . (Hoorn, 1608); and Namen, ofte Benaminghen Christi . . . op't A.B.C. gherecht (Hoorn, 1615). An old Dutch concord­ance, the author of which is unknown, is Handtboecxken, ofte Concordantie, Dat is: de ghelijckluydende plaetsen der Heyligher Schrift by een vergadert (n.p., 1576; 2d edition, Rotterdam, 1614). Other concordances by Mennonite authors are: J.P.V.M. (Jacob Pietersz van der Meulen), Collatio: S. Scripture, Dat is, Vergelijckinge der H. Schriftu­ren in verscheyden geloofs-saken . . . (Dordrecht, 1602, idem, with an appendix, Dordrecht, 1602); J. P. S. (Jan Philipsz Schabaelje), Harmonia, Ofte Eendrachtghe Verstettinghe der vier Evangelisten . . . (Amsterdam, 1624); the same, Sommarium, Ofte Corten Inhoudt des Bybels . . . (Amsterdam, 1629, reprint Haarlem, 1654); K. Toornburg, Con­cordantie van gelijkluydende piaatsen der H.S. . . . (Alkmaar, 1695). The [[Amsterdam Mennonite Library (Bibliotheek en Archief van de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente te Amsterdam)|Amsterdam Mennonite Li­brary]] has some fragments of a Concordantie ofte schriftuerlyke catechismus by an unknown author and undated, but likely from the 17th century. (Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam. 2 v Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884, I, No. 668.)

One more concordance of the 16th century has become known, which originated neither in Ana­baptist nor in official Protestant church circles: it is Otto Brunfels' (d. 1534) Pandectbüchlein beiläufig aller Sprüch beider Testament (460 pp., 8°). It was first published in Latin in 1527 in Strasbourg, but was soon translated into German (German edition, 1529, Strasbourg, and 1533 and 1544, Augsburg. Ten Latin editions appeared between 1527 and 1576, and one Dutch edition). Again it is a topical concordance, inasmuch as it collects Scriptural texts according to certain topics in separate chapters, one for each topic. As it was published first in Stras­bourg (Brunfels was a friend of Capito), con­tacts with Anabaptists are highly probable.

The 17th century produced a number of con­cordances by official Protestant churchmen: in 1609 Konrad Agricola (Bauer) published a verbal con­cordance which became very popular; in 1610, Johann Piscator, principal of the academy at Herborn, Nassau, published his voluminous Herborn Bibelwerk, composed of Scripture portions with elaborate commentaries, and the Bibel Register, a verbal concordance of not less than 1,607 pages. It was printed at the well-known "academic press" of Herborn. It must have been popular also among the Anabaptists, for Andreas Ehrenpreis mentions the book in his great Sendbrief of 1652, and worn-out copies are occasionally found in Men­nonite homes even today. Other Protestant Bible concordances are by Johannes Janus (1650), G. Büchner (1750), which latter became particularly popular (29th edition 1927), the Calwer Bibel Kon­kordanz (1892), the second edition of which (1905) was prepared by the Mennonite scholar Johannes Claassen (3rd edition 1923), and that of Otto Schmoller (1869, 5th edition 1923).

The first English concordance to the entire Bible, A Concordance, was produced by John Marbeck in 1550. The most famous is that of Alexander Cruden, A Complete Concordance, first published in London in 1737, since published in countless revisions. It purports to list each occurrence of the sig­nificant words of Scripture (though it is not com­plete) and appends a concordance to the Apocry­phal books. More exhaustive concordances are Robert Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Edinburgh 1879, rev. edition, 1902) and James Strong's absolutely complete Exhaustive Concord­ance of the Bible (New York, 1894). J. B. R. Walker's Comprehensive Concordance of the Holy Scriptures (Boston, 1894) is similar to Cruden's but more complete.


Bindseil, H. E. Bindseil. "Ueber Bibel Kon­kordanzen," in Theol. Studien und Krit. (1870) 673-720. An older study that contains hardly anything regarding Anabaptist or Men­nonite material. 

Baring, G. “Die Wormser Propheten . . . .” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte (1933) 38 (connecting Leonhard Brauner with Denck and Haetzer).

Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica, 10 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: v. 5, 585 ff. Vols. 1-6 available in full electronic text at

Friedmann, Robert. "Eine dogmatische Hauptschrift der hutterischen Täufergemeinschaften in Mähren, “Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 28 (1931) 224-33, and “The Schieitheim Confession,” Mennonite Quarterly Review 16 (1942) 95-98. Collects the Anabaptist material.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff.  Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 541.

Wiswedel, Wilhelm. “Die Testamentserläuterung, ein Beitrag zur Täu­fergeschichte.“ Blätter für württembergische Kirchengeschichte (1937): 64-76.

Zeitschrift des Historischen Vereins für Schwaben und Neuburg (1900): 39.

Snyder, C. Arnold, ed., Gilbert Fast and Galen Peters, trans. Biblical Concordance of the Swiss Brethren, 1540. Kitchener, Ont.: Pandora Press Canada, 2001. 227 pp. ISBN 2-894710-16-9.

Author(s) Robert Friedmann
Date Published 1953

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Friedmann, Robert. "Concordance." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 19 Oct 2017.

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Friedmann, Robert. (1953). Concordance. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 October 2017, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 665-667. All rights reserved.

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