Gespauwde Klauw

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Gespauwde Klauw (Cloven Hoof). In the fall of 1534 a dispute took place at Amsterdam between the Anabaptists leaders Jacob van Campen, Obbe Philips, and Hans Scheerder. The theme of discussion was the question whether the Scriptures stand on "one hoof" or on "two hoofs," i.e., whether one should believe "that all that has happened in the Old Covenant corresponds with the New Covenant," meaning that the prophecies of the Old Testament will be realized in the New Testament, or that the Scriptures of the Old Testament are plain, not supposing a fulfillment in the Christian era. This theme is also repeatedly discussed by Melchior Hoffman, who defends the cloven hoof. "Ein ider muss der gespaltnen clawen wol warnemen. Denn alle Gottes wort doppelt oder zwiffach seint" (zur Linden, Melchior Hofmann, 430). The expression "cloven hoof" is derived from Leviticus 11:3 and Deuteronomy 14:6; the theme is important, inasmuch as the problem disturbed Anabaptism in the Netherlands in its early period and Hoffman's theory, adopted by Jacob van Campen and also by Cornelis wt den Briel and later by the Münsterite leaders, opened the door wide for an unsound and dangerous typologizing and for the idea that the kingdom of God should bear the traits of the earthly kingdom of Israel, as Jan van Leyden taught. On the other hand Obbe Philips could not believe that the Scriptures have a double meaning, asserting that the Scriptures stand on "one hoof." So he is a forerunner of Menno Simons, who was averse to mystics and false allegories, and who states contrary to the Münsterites and Davidjorists that the Scriptures are plain, and that one should teach and believe the express words of Christ. On this question see the writings of Melchior Hoffman.


Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: V, 167, 177, 188, 189; VII, 137.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1917): 133-135.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1956

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Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Gespauwde Klauw." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 9 Aug 2022.

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Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1956). Gespauwde Klauw. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 9 August 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 508. All rights reserved.

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