Gansfort, Johan Wessel (1420-1489)

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Johan Wessel Gansfort, precursor of the Reformation in the Netherlands, born at Groningen, educated in the school of the Brethren of the Common Life at Zwolle. He became the bosom friend of Thomas à Kempis, the famous author of The Imitation of Christ. Throughout Europe he was respected as a man of extraordinary learning. He traveled in France and Italy and visited the papal court. His liberal views, deviating from those of the Catholic Church, led to his dismissal from the faculty at Heidelberg. After this event he lived again in Groningen, and regularly visited the noted school at the nearby abbey at Aduard. In consequence he exerted unusual influence on the clergy of Friesland and Groningen, thus preparing the way for the Reformation in these parts. His heretical concept of communion he stated in a book, De coena Dei (The Lord's Supper). Two scholarly Dutch Humanists, Hinne Rode and Cornelis Hoen, acquainted Zwingli with Gansfort's ideas. From them Zwingli derived his doctrine on the communion. Thus the concept of the Dutch Mennonites concerning communion is not taken from Zwingli, but was taken directly from Gansfort by Frisian preachers.


Groningsche Volksalmanak (1920): 148-153.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 35.

Lindeboom, Johannes. Het Bijbelsch Humanisme in Nederland. Leiden: Adriani, 1913: 39-55.

Rhijn, M. van. Wessel Gansfort. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1917.

Author(s) Karel Vos
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Vos, Karel. "Gansfort, Johan Wessel (1420-1489)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 21 Feb 2018.,_Johan_Wessel_(1420-1489)&oldid=87658.

APA style

Vos, Karel. (1956). Gansfort, Johan Wessel (1420-1489). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 February 2018, from,_Johan_Wessel_(1420-1489)&oldid=87658.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 438. All rights reserved.

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