Fabricius, Theodor (1501-1570)

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Theodor Fabricius (Dietrich Smit), born 2 February 1501, was a Lutheran theologian who studied theology and Hebrew at the universities of Cologne and Wittenberg. He returned to Cologne in 1527 to teach Hebrew, but had to flee from the city before the end of the year because he had sided with Clarenbach and Fliesteden. He fled to the duchy of Jülich, and was there received in noble families and associated with the "Wassenberg preachers (Predikanten)," especially Campanus and Klopreis. It was probably Fabricius who freed Klopreis from prison in Cologne on New Year's night 1529 and took him to Wassenberg, where Klopreis was ordained in the house of the bailiff.

In 1533 Fabricius was in Kassel. In November Philipp of Hesse sent him with Johannes Lening, the pastor at Melsungen, to Münster to promote the Protestant cause. Day after day he spoke in St. Lambert's Church. At the same time Fabricius was commissioned to define Luther's doctrine as over against that of the Anabaptists; the document was drawn up by Fabricius and Dr. Westermann of Lippstadt. On 15 November they reported that they had reached an agreement with Bernhard Rothmann on all points but infant baptism. In his sermon on the following day Fabricius stated that there was disagreement only in the matter of the proper time for baptism, and this was a minor issue on which difference of opinion was admissible. But in the end the unification failed and the Hessian clergymen returned home. But Fabricius remained at his post in spite of hopeless prospects until he was expelled in 1534. In November Philipp sent him back to Münster to negotiate with the Anabaptists for peace.  This mission also ended in failure.

Once more Fabricius was used by Philipp to convert imprisoned Anabaptists. In August 1538, when he was pastor at Allendorf, he and Noviomagus, a professor at the University of Marburg, repeatedly cross-examined the Anabaptists held at Wolkersdorf, and tried to lead them from their faith, but without success. When Fabricius protested against Philipp's dual marriage, he lost his freedom and his possessions.   He returned to Wittenberg, where he took his degree under Luther 29 May 1544. On 15 September 1570 he died as superintendent at Zerbst.


Cornelius, C. A. Die Münsterischen Humanisten und ihr Verhältnis zur Reformation. Münster, 1851: 26 ff.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 626 f.

Keller, Ludwig. Geschichte der Wiedertäufer und ihres Reiches zu Münster. Münster : Coppenrath’schen buchhandlung, 1880: Supplement.

Rembert, Karl. Die “Wiedertäufer“ im Herzogtum Jülich. Berlin: R. Gaertners Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1899: 310.

Vollbehr, Th. "Zur Geschichte der Münster'schen Unruhen." in Arch. des German. Museums II (1889): 97-103. Vollbehr offers evidence against the assump­tion by Cornelius that Fabricius was the main source or even the author of the work published under the name of Heinrich Dorpius, Wahrhaftige Historie (1536).

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Neff, Christian. "Fabricius, Theodor (1501-1570)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 22 Jul 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Fabricius,_Theodor_(1501-1570)&oldid=118172.

APA style

Neff, Christian. (1956). Fabricius, Theodor (1501-1570). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 July 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Fabricius,_Theodor_(1501-1570)&oldid=118172.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 287. All rights reserved.

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