Strasbourg Discipline

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The Strasbourg Discipline is a set of 23 regulations drawn up in 1568 by the "preachers and elders from many places in the meeting at Strasbourg" and confirmed and renewed in 1607 at the same place by the assembled representatives of the congregations, This Abrede der Diener und Eltesten (Agreement of the Preachers and Elders) was expanded at two later conferences, viz., on March 5 (year not given) in Obersülzen in the Palatinate and in 1688 at Ofenstein.

These articles do not constitute an actual confession of faith or dogmatic teachings, but in general discuss practical questions of church life, for the most part dealing with the organization of the congregations, supply of ministers, discipline, ordinances, marriage, care of orphans, etc.

Three manuscript copies of the Strasbourg Discipline recopied and handed down through Amish bishops in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, and Indiana are now in the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College. One of these is translated above together with an attached appendix of four articles adopted at Hoffingen in 1630.

William Yoder, an Amish bishop of near Nappanee, Indiana, published the Strasbourg Discipline together with additional material in 1905 as Artikel und Ordnungen der Christlichen Gemeinde in Christo Jesu (printed at Elkhart, Indiana) as a 16-page booklet.

The Gemeinde-Kalender for 1906 contains an interesting article by Mathias Pohl on the Discipline, in which he presented a paraphrase article by article from an old copy then in the possession of Peter Kipfer of the Emmental congregation near Langnau, Switzerland. Two additional articles appear in this paraphrase, one dealing with tobacco, which could not have been in the 1568 form, hence were likely added in 1607. Also presented by Pohl are four additional articles adopted by a conference at Obersülzen on March 5 (year missing) and another set of five articles adopted by the conference at Bronstein (Berstein) in March 1688.

Ernst Müller in his Berner Täufer (1895) refers to the Strasbourg Discipline with brief characterization and summary (pp. 50-52) stating that the manuscript copy he used was in private possession in Emmental Mennonite hands, possibly the Kipfer copy. He refers to the Obersülzen additions as of 5 March 1668, but does not mention the Ofenstein additions. An interesting and valuable feature of the Kipfer manuscript is a colored drawing on the cover picturing Anabaptist men and women in an assembly. This is reproduced in the Pohl article in black and white.

This is, next to the Schleitheim Confession, the only significant church document of the Swiss Brethren which has been preserved. It is of outstanding significance from the practical point of view, but of no value theologically.

Additional Information

Text of Strasbourg Discipline.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Strasbourg Discipline." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 18 May 2024.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Strasbourg Discipline. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 644. All rights reserved.

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