Meulen, Jacob Pietersz van der (d. after 1631)

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Jacob Pietersz van der Meulen (also Vermeulen, van der Muelen, van der Mullen, van der Moelen, van der Molen) (dead after 1631), was an elder of the Old Flemish (Huiskoopers) Mennonite congregation of Haarlem, Holland. About 1590 he and Hans de Wever (Hans Busschaert) banned the "Bekommerden" and their leader Quirijn van der Meulen of Danzig, and also Paulus Bussemaker of Danzig and his group called "Heylsamen". But in 1598 he was banned himself by Hans de Wever, because he refused to exclude a member of his congregation for bankruptcy. Then Jacob Pietersz and his followers, called Vermeulensvolk or Bankroetiers, formed a congregation of their own. Yet he was the man who, perhaps having become wise by experience, sought to restore peace; in 1600 when Hans de Ries, the Waterlander elder, wrote a letter to him to make peace, he eagerly took up the idea. After the negotiations had been carried on for some time by letter, a conference was held at Haarlem on 29 June 1605 between de Ries and his followers and Jacob Pietersz and his adherents. Here the different views of both groups concerning intermarriage, marital avoidance, ban, rebaptism of members of other churches who wished to join the group were discussed. Apparently the Waterlanders could not agree with the rather conservative principles of the Vermeulensvolk; at any rate the negotiations were broken off. A second meeting of Jacob Pietersz and de Ries in October 1606 likewise failed to heal the breach between the two groups.

Concerning the private life of Jacob Pietersz there is little information. He was probably born in Flanders and died at a very advanced age. He was probably a businessman, because he is said to have once stayed for a long time at Vilna, Lithuania, on business. Kühler is of the opinion that he was "one of the cleverest and most versatile of the educated Mennonites" of this period. With a sympathy rarely found at that time, he spoke about the poor Indians of America, who were victims of the covetousness and fanaticism of the Spaniards.

Jacob Pietersz, believing that the rise of Catholicism in the Netherlands about 1600 represented a danger, wrote a remarkable book on the Apostolic Succession. The title reads: Successio Apostolica, Dat is, Naecominghe oft de Naetredinghe der Apostelen . . . (Alkmaar, 1600). In this book he defends the thesis that true apostolic succession is not guaranteed by an unbroken line of consecrated clergymen (as taught in the Catholic Church) who are warranted to administer the holy offices of the church, but that the "apostolic successors" are those who follow Christ and obey His commandments; they are not committed to any succession of place or person, but only to the succession of the evangelical confession. The Christian church is apostolic, not on the basis of the succession of its ministers, but on the basis of its spiritual relationship with the church of the apostles, and the true Christian is not the one who belongs to a church in which there is a continuous chain of ministers from the days of old, but the one who knows the voice of the Good Shepherd and who bears witness of the forgiveness of sins. Whoever thus believes is a member of the church, and the church is found wherever such believers have united. All the rest are the synagogue of Satan.

Van der Meulen's Successio Apostolica was countered by two Catholic authors: the Jesuit Fransciscus Costerus wrote Toetsteen van de versierde apostolische successie eens wederdoopers Jacob Pietersen van der Molen (Antwerp, 1603) and V. P. (probably Simon Walraven) published Successio Anabaptistica, Dat is Babel der Wederdopers, eensdeels in Duytsland, maer principael in Nederlandt. . . . (Cologne, 1603, reprint Cologne, 1612, re-edition in Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica VII by Samuel Cramer with introduction, The Hague, 1910).

Besides his Successio Apostolica Jacob Pietersz van der Meulen published a number of books: Een gantsch Claer Grondighe bewijsinghe ende Onderrechtinghe van der Doope (1581, reprint Haarlem, 1627); Verantwoordinge eender Requeste (1597); Defensio, wt de Heylighe Godlijcke Schriftuere, dat strijdende Menschelijcke Vernuft, opinie ende schadelijcke dwalinghe wech neemt, . . . (Alkmaar, 1599); Ondersoeckinge der Pausgesinde Leere (1600); Declaratio, oft Openbare vertooninghe . . . teghen severe gedichte Calumnien, . . . (Alkmaar, 1600); Collatio: S. Scripture, Dat is, Verghelifckinge der H. schrifturen in verscheyden geloofs-saken, . . . (Dordrecht, 1602, reprint with appendix, Dordrecht, 1602); Vertoogh aen de Succesoors des Jesuijts D. Francisci Costeri, . . . (Alkmaar, 1604); Dialogus, Dat is een t'samensprekinghe tusschen verscheyden persoonen, . . . (Dordrecht, 1602); Ontschuldinghe oft Nootelicke verantwoordinghe tegen Lasterlijcke Schriften (1603); Christelijcke Onderrichtinghe, oft een dare Onderwijsinghe, met grondighe Belijdenisse der voorneemste Poincten der heylsamer Leere, . . . (Alkmaar, 1609); Historia Ecclesiastica. Een Kercken Historie, . . . (Haarlem, 1614), with an appendix to this work entitled Historia der Kerckenhandel . . . (Haarlem, 1614), in which Kerckenhandel he also gives an account of two disputations he held with Catholics at Haarlem in 1614, the first on 14 January, the second shortly after. He published further: Apocalypsis, ofte de Openbaringhe Joannis (Haarlem, 1614); Proeve van de Kerckelijcke Regeeringhe, ofte Ordinatien der Ghemeynten Christi (Haarlem, 1621); Evangelische Expositien (Haarlem, 1623); Veilighe Wech ofte Raet om hem in't bannen ofte veroordelen niet te vergrijpen (Amsterdam, 1631). His book Verclaringe uyt de Godtlycke Schriftuere, Hoe haer de Gemeente Christi moet bewysen neffens die Broeders die (na datse haer in de Gemeenschap der Geloovigen hebben begeven) wederom vervollen zijn, published after his death in 1645, apparently is the reprint of an older writing from the time of his quarrels with the Bekommerden or the Heylsamen (about 1590).


Catalogus der werken over de Doopsgezinden en hunne geschiedenis aanwezig in de bibliotheek der Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam. Amsterdam: J.H. de Bussy, 1919: 193, 194, 195, 197, 212, 213.

Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica, 10 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: VII, 8 f. 64 f., 69 f., 74 f., 79, 82, 87.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1876): 35 (1910): 31.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 118.

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: v. I, Nos. 495-498, 500, 507, 510-514, 516, 518.

Kühler, Wilhelmus Johannes. Geschiedenis van de Doopsgezinden in Nederland II. 1600-1735 Eerste Helft. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink & Zoon n.v., 1940: 2, 126-130.

Schagen, M. Naamlijst der Doopsgezinde schrijveren. Amsterdam, 1745: 67 f.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1957

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Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Meulen, Jacob Pietersz van der (d. after 1631)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 6 Oct 2022.,_Jacob_Pietersz_van_der_(d._after_1631)&oldid=146620.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1957). Meulen, Jacob Pietersz van der (d. after 1631). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 October 2022, from,_Jacob_Pietersz_van_der_(d._after_1631)&oldid=146620.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 660-661. All rights reserved.

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