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The University of Amsterdam is, in contrast to the other three universities of the Netherlands in the 1950s, (Leiden, Utrecht and Groningen, which were state universities), an institution of the city of Amsterdam. It grew out of the Athenaeum, which was founded there in 1632. The occasion for its founding was the wish of the citizens of Amsterdam to have their sons educated in their home town, and their love of intellectual liberty, which created a field for scholars of Arminian belief. The Athenaeum was a university in miniature; in 1732, at the celebration of its centennial, it had only two professors. In 1815 it was recognized as having equal rights with the national universities. At the beginning of the 19th century D. J. van Lennep was its guiding star. But after the law of 1876 was passed, which reformed university teaching and gave the Athenaeum the rights of a university (including the right to grant degrees), and the city opened the university in 1877, the school made a sudden, undreamed-of growth, and acquired its five faculties: theology, law, medicine, philology and philosophy, and natural sciences. In the old Athenaeum there had, to be sure, been an occasional chair of theology; usually, however, theology was left to the seminary, which was founded in 1632 by the Remonstrants and transferred to Leiden in 1873 for ecclesiastical reasons. In 1817 the Lutheran seminary was added. The denominational division was sharp; even the professors in the aula were separated from their colleagues by a dividing wall. Genestet wrote a merry little verse about the Lutheran, the Remonstrant and the two honest Mennonites, who were separated by a wall as if they were antichrists. After 1946 Reformed theological students also had opportunity to study at the Amsterdam university through the appointment of two theology professors by the Reformed Church. Since the theology students already held a diploma of graduation from a gymnasium or have passed the state examination, they took two examinations at the university, the so-called Propaedeutic examination that covered Hebrew and philosophy, and the Candidaatsexamen, that covered the Old and New Testaments, church history and history of doctrines, comparative history of religion, ethics, and philosophy of religion. After these examinations the students studied further at their own seminaries. They might also take the doctoral examination at the university.

The seminary professors might also be professors at the university at the same time; this happened regularly. The Mennonite seminary professors, de Hoop Scheffer, Hoekstra, Cramer, de Bussy, Kühler and Appeldoorn were also university professors, and in 1950 Leendertz also.

There is a second university at Amsterdam, founded in 1906, called the Free University (Vrije Universiteit). It was created by Dr. Abraham Kuyper and is supported by the Gereformeerde Kerk, the strongly Calvinistic body that separated from the Dutch state church known as the Hervormde Kerk in 1892 under the leadership of Kuyper. 


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 66-68.

Author(s) J. ten Doornkat Koolman
Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Doornkat Koolman, J. ten and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Amsterdam, University of (Amsterdam, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 26 May 2019. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Amsterdam,_University_of_(Amsterdam,_Netherlands)&oldid=53841.

APA style

Doornkat Koolman, J. ten and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1953). Amsterdam, University of (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2019, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Amsterdam,_University_of_(Amsterdam,_Netherlands)&oldid=53841.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 110. All rights reserved.

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