Schabaelje, Jan Philipsz (Philipsen) (ca. 1585-1656)

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Schabaelje (Scabalie, Scabalje), Jan Philipsz (Philipsen), born at Amsterdam about 1585, died there in April 1656, and buried at Alkmaar, was a member of the Mennonite Waterlander (Toren) congregation at Amsterdam. At first he, together with his brother Pieter, owned a grain mill and was rather wealthy; later he lost his money. In 1620 he was chosen deacon of his home congregation, and soon decided to devote himself to study; he then moved to Alkmaar, where he in 1636 or 37 was called to the ministry of the Waterlander congregation as a colleague of Hans de Ries. After a few years, however, he was dismissed on a charge of offensive conduct with his housekeeper, whom he later married. The exact years of his service at Alkmaar are not known. After his dismissal he returned to Amsterdam, where he opened a bookshop in the Langestraat. This business did not prosper, and gradually Schabaelje's circumstances became rather poor; then he was appointed visitor of the sick in the Amsterdam Waterlander congregation with a small salary.

Schabaelje published a large number of writings, partly because he was forced to earn his living in this way, partly also because he felt an inner call to do so. With his brother Dirk Philipsz Scabaelje he published a hymnal entitled Walchers Liedboeck (Vlissingen, 1611). His other publications are Harmonia ofte Eendrachtighe Vertellinghe der Vier Evangelisten (Amsterdam, 1624); Sommarium ofte corten inhoudt des Bijbels, followed by a Historielied van het leeven onzes Heeren Jesu Christi and two other hymns (Amsterdam, 1629, repr. Haarlem, 1654); Tractaet teghen de Successie der Pausen van Romen (Amsterdam, 1633); Dialogus van den Corinthischen twist . . . op deesen onsen tijd gepast (de Rijp, 1640); Aenmerkingen, of Gulden Annotatien (Hoorn, 1641; with a somewhat revised title reprinted (De Rijp, 1641, and Amsterdam, n.d.); Den grooten Figuer-Bibel, a Biblical history with 477 copper engravings (Alkmaar, 1646); Historische Beschrijving van het Leeven Jesu Christi, 1069 pages with illustrations (De Rijp, 1647; 3d ed. Leeuwarden, 1707, 4th ed. Amsterdam, 1716; 64 pictures found in the third edition of this book are taken from the N. Visscher's Prentenbijbel); Bibelsche Figueren anders ghenaemt Spiegel des Evangeliums (Amsterdam, 1648); Emblemata Sacra (1653); his Metamorphosis ofte Transformatie onses tijdts waar in Poetischer Wijze beweezen word de groote, en wonderbaarelijke veranderinge der Menschen uit hunne waare scheppinge: gesteld by maniere van Zaamensprekinge tusschen eenen welbelezen Historicus en eenen Pelgrim (Alkmaar, 1657) appeared after his death. Of his book Corte Maniere om de Siecken in haer wtersten te troosten the first edition has been lost. A second revised and enlarged edition was published at Amsterdam in 1682. He also wrote a booklet on De eeuwige Godtheyt Christi; of this book no separate edition seems to be extant; it is only found in a volume, published at Leeuwarden in 1688, containing (a) Hans de Ries' Van de eeuwigheyd ende Godtheyd Jesu Christi, (b) Schabaelje's De eeuwige Godtheyt Christi, and (c) Menno Simons' Van den eenigen eeuwigen ende waren Godt, Vader, Soon ende H. Geest. Besides these and a number of his hymns found in Mennonite hymnals such as Gheestelijck Kruydt-Hofken and Stapel's Lusthof der Zielen, two of his publications have been of outstanding significance for the Mennonites, viz., Lusthof des Gemoeds and Vereenigingh van de principals Artijckelen des Geloofs.

In 1635 Schabaelje published at Alkmaar a devotional book, Lusthof des Gemoets inhoudende verscheyden geestelijcke Oeffeningen met noch twee Collatien der wandelende Ziele met Adam en Noach (The Mind's Garden of Pleasure, Containing Various Spiritual Exercises with Two Dialogues of the Wandering Soul with Adam and Noah). This book has gone through more than 50 Dutch editions and has been the most widely read Mennonite book, also very popular among non-Mennonites. The second and following editions were augmented by a dialogue with Simon Cleophas, the title henceforth reading: Lusthof des Gemoeds . . . met nog drie Collatien der Wandelende Ziele met Adam, Noah en Simon Cleophas (Wandering Soul). In the second and following editions also a number of small additions were added. Most editions have a few rather primitive pictures and an illustrated title page; a 1724 edition has some copper engravings by Jan Luiken. The last Dutch edition is dated 1768.

The last part of this book was separately published in a German translation, entitled Die Wandlende Seele, das ist: Gespraech der Wandlenden Seelen mit Adam, Noah und Cleophas, verfasset die Geschichten von der Erschaffung der Welt an biss zu und nach der Zerstoerung Jerusalems. This translation was made by B.B.B., who was very probably Bernhard (?) Benedict Brechbühl (Brechbill; 1665-1720), who was among the Swiss refugees who came to Holland in 1710 and later immigrated to America. The German translation was edited in Europe at least 13 times, chiefly at Basel and Frankfurt-Leipzig.

It was very popular among the Mennonites in America, where 18 German editions of Die Wand(e)lende Seel(e) are known (first ed. Germantown by Chr. Saur, 1768) and 9 English editions of The Wandering Soul. As in Europe the American editions of this book, both German and English, were widely read by non-Mennonites. (See Wandering Soul.)

In 1640 (at Amsterdam) Schabaelje published: Vereenigingh van de principale Artijckelen des Geloofs eeniger Doops-ghesinde Ghemeynten, diemen noemt Waterlanderen, Vlaminghen, en Duytschen, getrocken uyt hare uyt-gegevene Confession, waer uyt men sien kan het klein en nietigh verschil der selver Confessien, Tot dienst van alle vreed'-lievende, door I.P.S. (Combination of the Principal Articles of Faith of Some Mennonite Congregations, called Waterlanders, Flemish, and Germans, Extracted from Their Published Confessions, from Which One Can See the Slight Difference Between These Confessions, in the Service of All Peaceful [Christians]). A second edition of this book appeared at Amsterdam 1674, 3d ed., Rotterdam 1739. In this book, written for the promotion of greater unity among the Dutch Mennonites, Schabaelje compares the Waterlander Confession by Hans de Ries and Lubbert Gerritsz, of 1610, and the Jan Cents High German - Frisian Confession of 1630, showing that the differences in the main doctrines are insignificant. Schabaelje's book was much appreciated by Schijn and other leading Dutch Mennonites.


Bender, Harold S. Two Centuries: 4.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1864): 44; (1891): 2, 8.

Friedmann, Robert. Mennonite Piety Through the Centuries. Goshen, 1949: 111-15.

Horst, I. B. "The Wandering Soul, a Remarkable Book of Devotion." Mennonite Historical Bulletin 18 no. 4: 1, 2, 4, 8.

Molhuysen, P. C. and P. J. Blok. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek. v. 1-10. Leiden, 1911-1937: v. 2, 1268-70.

Schagen, Martin. Naamlijst der doopsgezinde schrijveren. Amsterdam, 1745: 89 ff. (The Amsterdam Mennonite library has a copy of this Naamlijst in which Schagen himself made handwritten annotations of a large number of editions of Lusthof des Gemoeds, now lost).

Schijn, Hermann. Uitvoeriger Verhandeling van de Geschiedenisse der Mennoniten. Amsterdam: Kornelis de Wit, 1744: 581-88.

Smith, C. Henry. The Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania. Norristown, 1929: 346-348.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Schabaelje, Jan Philipsz (Philipsen) (ca. 1585-1656)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 5 Dec 2023.,_Jan_Philipsz_(Philipsen)_(ca._1585-1656)&oldid=77451.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Schabaelje, Jan Philipsz (Philipsen) (ca. 1585-1656). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 5 December 2023, from,_Jan_Philipsz_(Philipsen)_(ca._1585-1656)&oldid=77451.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 437-438. All rights reserved.

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