Molenaar, Isaak (1776-1834)

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Isaak Molenaar I, a Mennonite minister, was born on 3 September 1776 at Krefeld, Germany, the son of Wopko Molenaar, studied at the Mennonite Seminary in Amsterdam (1794-1799) and at the University of Jena, where he met Schiller in the home of Johann Jakob Griesbach, a professor of theology. Schiller mentions him with honor in his letters to Wilhelm von Humboldt, suggesting Molenaar for the position of tutor to the Humboldt sons.

Molenaar completed his studies at Amsterdam. In 1804 he was called as preacher to Zutphen, in 1806 to Groningen, in 1808 to Zaandam-West, in 1814 to Leiden, where he was on friendly terms with his old friend of student days, now Professor Siegenbeek, and the professors van Voorst, van der Palm, Kemper, Borger, and Willem Bilderdijk, a conservative who lectured in history and who mentioned Molenaar's intellect and scholarship with praise. The sermon he preached at Leiden on 3 October 1814 to commemorate the relief of Leiden was published: Kerkelijke Aanspraak ter viering van Leiden's ontzet (n.p., n.d.).

In 1818 Molenaar was called to Krefeld. He preached his first sermon there on 18 October and continued his fruitful work for 16 years, until his death on 19 April 1834. A volume of his sermons was published in 1836 with a biographical foreword by Professor Sack of the University of Bonn (see Krefeld). A collection of his sermons, entitled Leerredenen (Amsterdam, 1836), was published in the Dutch language by van der Palm, Siegenbeek, and Muller.

An interesting estimate of Molenaar's character is given by Princess Wilhelmine of Prussia: "In Kleve I had the pleasure of meeting the Mennonite preacher Molenaar, whom I had learned to love long ago through a splendid sermon which dear old Pastor Reuss gave me on the words 'Maria-Rabbuni.' Unfortunately he is very sickly, but all love, gentleness, and humility—and so simple!" Of interest is also his correspondence with Willem de Clercq, published in the Mennonitische Blatter (1916, 74, and 1918, 4 and 12).

In an article, "Izaak Molenaar aan Willem de Clercq" (Doopsgezinde Bijdragen 1911, 63-92), C. B. Hylkema calls him one of the forerunners and fathers of the Dutch Réveil (1830-1850). As a Pietist he occupied a very unusual position among the Dutch Mennonites, shared by few—Willem Messchert of Rotterdam, Jan ter Borg of Amsterdam, and Doyer of Texel—where the Mennonite preachers in general had adopted a rationalistic Christianity. In this respect certainly he was a unique personality for his time.


Bauer, W. "Prinzess Wilhelmine von Preussen." 246, taken from Mennonitisches Blätter (1911): 37.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1901): 4; (1911): 62 ff.

Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1837): 36.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 145 f.

Lootsma, S. Het Nieuwe Huys. Zaandam, 1937: 161, 164-166.

Molhuysen, P. C. and P. J. Blok. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek, 10 vols. Leiden, 1911-1937: IV, 998.

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1957

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Neff, Christian. "Molenaar, Isaak (1776-1834)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 24 Sep 2023.,_Isaak_(1776-1834)&oldid=145894.

APA style

Neff, Christian. (1957). Molenaar, Isaak (1776-1834). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 September 2023, from,_Isaak_(1776-1834)&oldid=145894.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 724-725. All rights reserved.

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