Blanke, Fritz (1900-1967)

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Fritz Blanke (22 April 1900-4 March 1967), church historian, first at Konigsberg (1926-1929), then Zürich (1929-1967), is best known among students of Anabaptism for his pioneering studies of Zürich Anabaptism, as published in Brothers in Christ (1955, German; 1961 English). He wrote some 27 articles, reviews, and books on the theme of Anabaptism and Mennonitism, attempting to understand the movement within the broader European religious context. As a true friend and sympathetic interpreter of many religious groups, he always attempted to allow the true Anabaptist genius to show through. Blanke also pioneered in the redefining of the word sect: he listed the Anabaptists under the category of "free churches," and not under "sects" (see his Kirchen und Sekten, 4th ed., 1963). In a very real sense, Blanke continued within his generation what two other Swiss historians, Emil Egli and Walther Köhler, had done for their generations (Zürich professors in church history from 1893 to 1908, and 1909 to 1929 respectively), in taking seriously the variegated Anabaptist movement.

Blanke's major attempt to interpret Anabaptism within the broader Reformation context is his article, "Anabaptism and the Reformation," in The Recovery of the Anabaptist Vision, ed. by Guy F. Hershberger (Scottdale, 1957): 57-68. Blanke found within early Zürich Anabaptism a close connection to Zwingli, especially in the group's desire to be faithful to the Scriptures—so central to Zwingli's thought. Late in his life, apparently through Harold S. Bender's influence, Blanke gave increasing room to a shift in Zwingli's view of the church, so that in effect, the Zürich Anabaptist circle simply continued to hold to Zwingli's earlier ecclesiastical position, including that of nonviolence (see Heinold Fast, "Fritz Blanke's Contribution to the Interpretation of Anabaptism," MQR, 43 [1969]: 64-65).


For a general biography on Blanke, see the "Fritz Blanke Memorial Issue," Mennonite Quarterly Review 43 (January 1969)

Aus der Welt der Reformation (five essays by Fritz Blanke, with a list of the author's publications, 1960).

Gäbler, Ulrich. "Verzeichnis der Veröffentlichungen von Fritz Blanke, 1960-67." Zwingliana 12, no. 1 (1968): 677-82.

Author(s) Leonard Gross
Date Published 1986

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MLA style

Gross, Leonard. "Blanke, Fritz (1900-1967)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1986. Web. 22 Sep 2020.,_Fritz_(1900-1967)&oldid=134168.

APA style

Gross, Leonard. (1986). Blanke, Fritz (1900-1967). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 September 2020, from,_Fritz_(1900-1967)&oldid=134168.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 88. All rights reserved.

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