Güldene Aepffel in Silbern Schalen

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Death's head colophon in Güldene Aepffel (1742) MAO photo.

Güldene Aepffel in Silbern Schalen, oder schöne und nützliche Worte und Wahrheiten zur Gottseligkeit, a devotional book of the Swiss-Mennonite Brethren, most likely of the "Reist Leut" (see Reist, Hans), of which three editions are known: 1702 and 1742 (both printed in Basel, although the city is not named), and 1745 printed at Ephrata, Pennsylvania. It is a 500-page book, apparently intended for devotional and edificatory purposes, trying to revive the spirit of the early Anabaptists. The anonymous compiler (who used for his title Proverbs 25:11) combined in it two very different materials. Part I (403 pages) contains a number of writings of 16th-century Anabaptists: (1) the writings of Michael Sattler and the story of his martyrdom (1527); (2) the very popular Confessio of Thomas of Imbroich (d. 1558); (3) "Ein Testament von einer frommen Liebhaberin Gottes," by Soetgen van Houte (d. 1569); (4) eleven epistles by the Anabaptist martyr Matthias Servaes (d. 1565), together with (5) two epistles by another martyred brother Conrad Koch (1565). All these documents are introduced by long and very moving prefaces, likewise of 16th-century origin, thus proving that these materials were simply reprints of old contemporary pamphlets which had been circulating among the brethren ever since the beginning. Now they were combined into one book to provide the persecuted Swiss Brethren with readings which could strengthen them in their tribulations. Part II (94 pages) contains material of much later origin: (a) the Dordrecht Confession of Faith (1632), reprinted after the manual of T. T. van Sittert; and {b) "Several Christian Prayers" (apparently likewise taken from the 1664 manual but originating with Leenaert Clock, 1625) enlarged by some more pieces of unknown origin, showing a pietistic slant (pp. 72-94).

The intention of the compiler and editor becomes apparent from his own preface, ". . . It is true that external peace makes the number of those who profess Christian faith increase. But it is also true that at such times of ease for the flesh Satan insinuates to man all sorts of evil suggestions. So depraved is human nature that it cannot endure good days of ease. . . ." And thus he calls for a return to the genuine Christian way of the forefathers, to the idea of the "suffering church" in which faith and steadfastness have to be evidenced. —Part II does not show quite the same spirit, presenting material which originated 80 to 100 years later. The Anabaptists had no written or printed prayers, but now a collection of 19 prayers is introduced with these words, ". . . My intention is only this that I might help a little those who are unskilled in prayer . . ." (see Prayer-books) .

Title page of 1745 Ephrata edition. 

The book is one of the best of the Mennonite devotional literature of the middle and later period. It offers "words and truths unto godliness," partly to revive the old spirit but partly also to meet the needs of the new piety just coming up around 1700 (see Pietism). Bishop Henry Funk had the book reprinted  in  Pennsylvania, most likely with similar intentions and out of the same spirit. Even though no further edition came out until 1995 (and an English translation in 1999), the many old copies found in Mennonite homes in America prove the great popularity of the book. In Europe things were different: the von Mechel publishing house in Basel was still advertising the 1742 edition in 1822. Later the book was completely forgotten and is today exceedingly rare.


Güldene Aepffel in silbern Schalen. Walnut Creek, Ohio: Verlegt durch einem Liebhaber Gottes Worts, 1995.

Imbroich, Thomas von, Konrad Koch, Matthias Servaes, Leonard Gross, and Elizabeth Horsch Bender. Golden Apples in Silver Bowls: The Rediscovery of Redeeming Love : Translation from the Original German. Mennonite sources and documents, no. 6. Lancaster, Pa: Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, 1999.

Friedmann, Robert. Mennonite Piety Through the Cen­turies. Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonite Publishing House, 1949: See Index. 

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 197 f.

Additional Information

The 1745 Ephrata edition is available in full electronic text at: http://books.google.ca/books?id=KHMOAAAAQAAJ

Author(s) Robert Friedmann
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friedmann, Robert. "Güldene Aepffel in Silbern Schalen." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 24 Sep 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=G%C3%BCldene_Aepffel_in_Silbern_Schalen&oldid=146459.

APA style

Friedmann, Robert. (1956). Güldene Aepffel in Silbern Schalen. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 September 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=G%C3%BCldene_Aepffel_in_Silbern_Schalen&oldid=146459.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 609-610. All rights reserved.

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