Hottinger, Jakob (16th century)

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Jakob Hottinger, of Zollikon, Zürich, a sponsor of church reform, as early as 1523 opposed the doctrine of transubstantiation and demanded the two forms of communion. Without consideration of circumstances he challenged the populace no longer to participate in the Mass, since the priests had hitherto deceived the people with it. There had been enough "looseness and idolatry." For this conduct he was punished with a prison sentence and a fine.

His radical view on the administration of the sacraments was not accepted by the church; he therefore joined the Anabaptists. When Kaspar Grossmann in a sermon on 16 January 1525, defended infant baptism, Hottinger interrupted him and took issue with him on this point. The court records of the Anabaptist trial of 7 February 1525 report that at a meeting of the Anabaptists in the home of Ruedi Thomann, Felix Manz baptized Jakob Hottinger and others with a dipper of water in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. There is also record of a meeting in Jakob Hottinger's house, where Conrad Grebel spoke on baptism and communion. They then observed communion together. Grebel cut the bread and distributed it with the admonition that all who partook "should henceforth live a Christian life." In several weeks another meeting was held in Jakob Hottinger's house, at which Blaurock baptized Heinrich Aberli with a handful of water, after Aberli had confessed his faith in the finished sacrifice of Christ.

A distinguishing feature of these meetings is the emphasis placed on the inner state of faith before baptism or communion, not only by the leaders, but also by the rank and file. We read, for example, that Jakob Hottinger and Blaurock met in the evening in Aberli's house and conversed "about divine things" and then observed communion. One of those present had requested them to pray for him that God might strengthen him in the faith, so that he might be worthy to approach the Lord's table. Jakob Hottinger also stated that anyone who falls back into sin after baptism must according to Scripture be punished with the ban. "It is not the sphere of any government to administer the Word of God with force, for it is free" (Egli, Züricher, 96).

In a few instances Hottinger also baptized; one of these he baptized was his wife in Zollikon. In March 1525 he promised before the council to amend his conduct. But in June he was already publicly warning the churchgoers of the parson, the false prophet; he was punished by strict confinement on bread and water. After a period in prison Hottinger requested an audience before the clergy to discuss baptism with them. On this occasion he promised again to go to church, with the reservation that if the sermon did not seem Scriptural to him he would be permitted to discuss it with the preacher after the service. Under the date of June 1526 the records state the following:

"Jakob Hottinger, who about a year ago was converted from Anabaptism in writing and made a recantation in Zollikon, has recently been seized for falling back into Anabaptism. He says he ascribes it to God, who had at that time let him fall and then raised him up again; he would stay by Anabaptism."

He remained true to this intention for a long time. The last report we have of him is dated 4 April 1528: "Jakob Hottinger, who has long been confined on water and bread in the new tower on account of his participation in the disturbances of the Anabaptists, now promises to reform." He was released upon payment of a fine of five pounds, defraying his expenses, and the customary oath, with the urgent admonition "that he keep his sons, his wife, and servants from Anabaptism."


Bender, Harold Stauffer. Conrad Grebel, c. 1498-1526: the founder of the Swiss Brethren sometimes called Anabaptists. Goshen, Ind.: Mennonite Historical Society, 1950.

Blanke, Fritz. Brüder in Christo: Die Geschichte der ältesten Täufergemeinde (Zollikon, 1525). Zürich: Zwingli Verlag, c1955.

Egli, Emil. Die Züricher Wiedertäufer zur Reformationszeit: nach den Quellen des Staatsarchivs. Zürich: Friedrich Schulthess, 1878.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff.  Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 350.

Muralt, Leonhard von and Walter Schmid. Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer in der Schweiz. Erster Band Zürich. Zürich: S. Hirzel, 1952.

Author(s) Samuel Geiser
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Geiser, Samuel. "Hottinger, Jakob (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 5 Feb 2023.,_Jakob_(16th_century)&oldid=145468.

APA style

Geiser, Samuel. (1956). Hottinger, Jakob (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 5 February 2023, from,_Jakob_(16th_century)&oldid=145468.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 820. All rights reserved.

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