Both, Hans (16th century)

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Hans Both was an Anabaptist preacher in Hesse, who was outstandingly zealous for Anabaptism in the border regions of Hesse and Thuringia in 1526. At first his sermons seemed to be full of apocalyptic ideas. A favorite theme was "the punishment of the world by a large army from the north." But he soon abandoned this topic, and worked in the sober spirit of the quiet Anabaptists, urged a serious sanctification of oneself, and emphasized an active expression of brotherly love. About 1530 he preached and baptized at Stadtlengstfeld on the Fulda in the bishopric of Fulda. Expelled from here he became the leader of the congregation at Sorge, not far from Hersfeld. Here he was able to further the Anabaptist cause extensively in the place of Melchior Rinck, who was seized 11 November 1531 at Vacha.

Exiled in September 1533, Both emigrated at the head of his congregation to Moravia. But he could not adjust himself to the difference in the situation of the Anabaptists there. He was also unwilling to give to the brotherhood all the possessions the group had brought. But finally he yielded. Soon afterward there was doctrinal division. Hans Both, according to the writings of the Moravian Anabaptists, taught that there were neither angels nor devils. When the elders restrained him and called him heretical, he replied in vexation that they were attempting to block his stream of living water, and that Melchior Rinck preached the same doctrine. The dispute ended in the expulsion from the brotherhood of all who sided with Both. They now adhered to Philipp Plener and Gabriel Ascherham.

Not long afterward Hans Both, deprived of all his possessions by having given them to the church, returned to his home. A small remnant of the Anabaptists who had emigrated from Hesse and Thuringia to Moravia persevered there under suffering and persecution. At the end of October 1533 they wrote to Hans Both, urging him to remain steadfast and support the Brethren in the faith.

About four years later in August 1537 the Hutterian Brethren wrote an epistle to the congregation in Hesse, justifying their attitude toward Hans Both. Both apparently continued to work in Hesse. Nothing more is known of him.


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Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1953

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Neff, Christian. "Both, Hans (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 17 Aug 2022.,_Hans_(16th_century)&oldid=143994.

APA style

Neff, Christian. (1953). Both, Hans (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 August 2022, from,_Hans_(16th_century)&oldid=143994.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 395-396. All rights reserved.

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