Beginsel en voortganck der geschillen, scheuringen, en verdeeltheden onder de gene die Doopsgesinden Genoemt worden, Het (Booklet)

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Het Beginsel en voortganck der geschillen, scheuringen, en verdeeltheden onder de gene die Doopsgesinden Genoemt worden. In dese laetste Eeuwe van hondert Jaren herwaerts tot op den Jare 1615. Getrouwelijck beschreven door I.H.V.P.N. Ende nu door J.K.J.H.D.K.F. in ‘t licht gegeven . . . t' Amsterdam, Gedrukt by Tymon Houthaak, op de Nieuwezijdts Kolk, in de Vogel Struys, A. 1658.

This is the title of a booklet of which Karel van Gent was once considered the author. It was completed in 1615, published in 1658, and translated into the German by Christian Joachim Jehring and published with other material in Jena, 1720, under the title: Gründliche Historie von den Begebenheiten, Streitigkeiten und Trennungen, so unter den Taufgesinnten oder Mennonisten von Ihrem Ursprung an bis auf das Jahr 1615 vorgegangen[1]. The Dutch original was edited by Samuel Cramer and published in Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica VII (The Hague, 1910).

Het Beginsel is one of the most valuable sources of information regarding beliefs and practices among the Waterlanders, Frisians, Flemish, and their subdivisions; church discipline, ban, and avoidance; meetings held by Mennonites and discussions between Mennonites and their opponents (Leeuwarden, Emden); the function of elders and ministers; leaders like Menno Simons, Obbe and Dirk Philips, Leenaert Bouwens, Adam Pastor, Gillis van Aken, and especially less-known leaders of the second half of the century such as Pieter van Ceulen, Jan van Ophoorn, Lubbert Gerrits, and others. As an appendix the book presents a part of the Restitution of Rothmann in Münster, which was probably added by the publisher. On the other hand, the other supplements, the Confession by Obbe Philips, two letters from Menno Simons to the Brethren at Franeker (1555) and at Emden (1556), as instructions concerning the appointment of Mennonite preachers, had been put in by the author. (See on the contrary: Krohn, Geschichte, second index.)

The reliability of the contents of the book has been questioned by men like de Hoop Scheffer, who says that the booklet was inspired by great animosity toward the Mennonites and should therefore be used "with the greatest of caution" (Doopsgezinde Bijdragen 1876, 14); and it is true that the booklet was published in 1658 by the opponents of the Mennonites as a weapon against them. However, Cramer stated that during the middle of the 19th century the booklet became "one of the primary sources of the history of the 16th century brotherhood" (BRN VII, 506). He quoted the Dutch church historian Brandt as saying that the author's objectivity was not questioned by those Mennonites who deplored the numerous divisions of the early Mennonites. Cramer added that he "sees no reason to deviate from this view" (503). Kühler (Geschiedenis I, 365) referred to the author as "the best historian among the Mennonites of his day" and relied heavily on this source. However, de Hoop Scheffer's caution is still valid when it comes to accepting the book's evaluation of all the events and developments presented. Regardless of who the author was, he wrote as one who had been disillusioned in some of the basic beliefs and practices of 16th-century Dutch Anabaptism, had been banned, and did not hesitate to let this be known. His case and his booklet can be compared to Obbe Philips and his Bekentenisse.

The identity of the author, important as he was, is still a mystery. In his preface the author stated that he was born in 1542. He was Catholic by birth and had already decided to become a priest, but by reading the New Testament of the Biestkens Bible he arrived at evangelical convictions and joined the adherents of Menno Simons in 1563. At first he belonged to the Frisians, but in October 1568 he was banned, probably because of marriage. Several years later he was admitted by the Flemish, and as one of them he participated in the disputation at Emden in 1578 between the Reformed and the Mennonites. In March 1580 he was also banned by the Flemish for an unknown reason but possibly because he did not agree with their severe application of the ban. Thereafter he did not attach himself to another party, but lived in quiet Mennonite circles, without belonging to any particular branch.

De Hoop-Scheffer considered Carel van Ghendt to be the author of this book (Doopsgezinde Bijdragen 1876, 14), as did also G. Brandt (Hist. der Reformatie). Samuel Cramer (in his introduction to the edition in BRN VII, 492, 496 et passim) questioned this assumption. Vos (Menno Simons, 307) rejected the assumption completely, and considered Willem Jansen, a Flemish elder, to be the author. No definite conclusion has yet been possible.

Cramer also states (BRN VII, 496) that we have a copy of the agreement reached at the Strasbourg Anabaptist conference on 24 August 1565 published by this same I.H.V.P.N. under the title, Copye, getrouwelyck . . . overgheset . . . in de Nederl. tale door J.H.V.P.N. in Amsterdam Anno 1610 den 2. September. He was an industrious collector of the writings of Anabaptists and related men, possessing several work of Staupitz, Entfelder, and Denck, and the translation of the Prophets by Denck and Haetzer.


Brandt, Geeraert. Historie der Reformatie en andere derkelyke Geschiedenissen in en Omtrent de Nederlanden. Amsterdam, J. Rieuwertsz., H. En D. Boom, 1674-1677 (V.1, 1677) Rotterdam, Barent Bos, 1704.

Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica, 10 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: v. VII, 489-564.

Keller, Ludwig. Die Waldenser und die deutschen Bibelübersetzungen: nebst Beiträgen zur Geschichte der Reformation. Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1886.

Kühler, Wilhelmus Johannes. Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Doopsgezinden in de Zestiende Eeuw. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink, 1932: 365.

Krohn, Barthold Nicolaus. Geschichte der fanatischen und enthusiastischen Wiedertäufer vornehmlich in Niederdeutschland: Melchior Hofmann und die Secte der Hofmannianer. Leipzig: Breitkopf, 1758.

Mennonitische Blätter (1911): 85; (1916): 85, 93.

Vos, Karel. Menno Simons, 1496-1561, zijn leven en werken en zijne reformatorische denkbeelden. Leiden : Boekhandel en drukkerij voorheen E. J. Brill, 1914: 306 f.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

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MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Beginsel en voortganck der geschillen, scheuringen, en verdeeltheden onder de gene die Doopsgesinden Genoemt worden, Het (Booklet)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 26 Feb 2024.,_scheuringen,_en_verdeeltheden_onder_de_gene_die_Doopsgesinden_Genoemt_worden,_Het_(Booklet)&oldid=173875.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1953). Beginsel en voortganck der geschillen, scheuringen, en verdeeltheden onder de gene die Doopsgesinden Genoemt worden, Het (Booklet). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 February 2024, from,_scheuringen,_en_verdeeltheden_onder_de_gene_die_Doopsgesinden_Genoemt_worden,_Het_(Booklet)&oldid=173875.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 265-266. All rights reserved.

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