Nafziger, Johannes (b. ca. 1706)

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Johannes (Hans) Nafziger (Naffziger) (b. ca. 1706) was an elder of the Amish congregation in Essingen near Landau in the Palatinate, Germany. He is thought to have spent his youth at the Mechtersheimerhof near Germersheim. The records in the archives in Karlsruhe mention him for the first time in 1738. He later moved to Essingen and leased an estate from the Baron of Dalsberg. He married Barbara Holly. In 1731 he was chosen preacher and then elder. He must have been a leader in the brotherhood. In 1765 he journeyed to the Netherlands with two other brethren, where some Swiss Amish had founded congregations. There was all kinds of disorder and strife to be regulated. They remained nine weeks to install new preachers and to make the observance of communion possible. These congregations needed help several times. In 1770 Johannes Nafziger was again one of the delegates. A written directive for the regulation of congregational life was requested. On 26 March 1781 Nafziger complied with a long letter in which he described the ceremonies of baptism, marriage, choice and ordination of preachers and deacons as he practiced them. This letter appears to have become a sort of ministers' manual for the Amish congregations in South Germany; several copies made at a later time have been preserved in the Mennonite Historical Library (Goshen, Indiana, USA).

Nafziger was active in the publication of the Martyrs Mirror in 1780 in Pirmasens. On 16 September 1778 he wrote a letter to Peter Weber of Kindenheim which reports the details of the contract with the printer and the copper plates he obtained from Amsterdam for the illustrations. "We hope it will by the grace of God be a beautiful book," he says at the close of the letter, which gives evidence of his business acumen.

The closing years of Nafziger's life were clouded by a most noteworthy instance of intolerance on the part of the Catholic Church. He was the elder who baptized the two girls mentioned in the article Punishment. The girls were to be punished by death, and he with a fine of 500 florins and exile. Nothing further is known about the execution of the sentence, nor of the date or place of Nafziger's death.


"An Amish Church Discipline of 1781." Mennonite Quarterly Review (1930): No. 2.

Correll, Ernst. "The Value of Family History for Mennonite History: Illustrated from Nafziger Family History Material of the Eighteenth Century,"Mennonite Quarterly Review 2 (1928): Nos. 1, 2, and 3.

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

Neff, Christian. "Eine Bekehrungsgeschichte." Mennonitischer Gemeinde-Kalender (1906): 54-78.

Author(s) Paul Schowalter
Date Published 1957

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MLA style

Schowalter, Paul. "Nafziger, Johannes (b. ca. 1706)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 24 Sep 2023.,_Johannes_(b._ca._1706)&oldid=145917.

APA style

Schowalter, Paul. (1957). Nafziger, Johannes (b. ca. 1706). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 September 2023, from,_Johannes_(b._ca._1706)&oldid=145917.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 806-807. All rights reserved.

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