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Vermanung, the commonly used short form for a book published in 1542 by Pilgram Marpeck and Leupold Scharnschlager, two leaders in the South German Anabaptist movement. The full title of the book is Vermanung; auch gantz klarer gründtlicher un(d) unwidersprechlicher bericht zu warer Christlicher . . . pundtssvereynigung allen waren glaubigen frummen und gutthertzigen menschen zu hilff and trost mit grund heyliger schrifft durch bewerung warer Tauff und Abentmals Christi sampt mitlauffung und erklärung irer gegensachen und Argumenten wider alle vermeynte Christliche Pündtnus so sich bissher un(d) noch under dem nammen Christi zutragend. Our knowl­edge of it has been greatly enhanced by Schwenckfeld's rather condescending reply to it; the cir­cumstances of its publication are known only from Schwenckfeld's correspondence. Although the book was not directed against Schwenckfeld, he felt at­tacked by it, and since he had a number of other complaints against Pilgram's brotherhood, he wrote the Judicium (see article Marpeck) in reply.

About two thirds of the Vermanung is an ex­panded translation of the Bekentnisse van beyden Sacramenten published at Münster in 1533 (as dis­covered by Wray 1954, reported in Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 1956), for which Bernt Rothmann is generally given credit, although actually six men signed the intro­duction. The two main subjects of both books are the sacraments of baptism and communion. First there is a lengthy introduction (not present in the Bekentnisse) decrying the splintering of the Anabaptist movement into a variety of sects in the twelve years since 1530, and calling the discouraged to rally around the banner of Christ. Marpeck and Scharnschlager admitted that they used other confessions in the Vermanung, but such had first been tested and purified, because they believed that nothing is more dangerous than truth mixed with error. After the introduction there is a discussion of the term "sacrament", and then baptism is discussed. While the Bekentnisse had brilliant arguments against infant baptism, the logic of adult baptism receives strong support only through the view of the church seen in the Vermanung, namely, that it is a suffering community; hence all forms of violence are categorically rejected, with a pointed reference to the outcome of the tragedy at Münster. Marpeck and his co-worker made a much sharper distinction between the Old and New Testaments than did the Bekentnisse, and at one point they re­jected the typology of the Bekentnisse. On original sin, on baptism as pouring as well as immersion, on remaining faithful unto the end, and finally in the stress on the covenant, the Vermanung differs from the Bekentnisse. For a full discussion of the con­tent of the Vermanung see the article Marpeck.

The Vermanung is one of the most important books written by the South German Anabaptists in the 16th century. It represents an attempt at unifica­tion outside of Switzerland and North Germany, which rejects the Hutterian communism and is aware of what happened at Münster. Further it oc­casioned the lengthy debates with Caspar Schwenck­feld that forced the Marpeck brotherhood to think through the issues presented by the spiritualists.

In a letter to the Moravian churches in 1553, Mar­peck mentioned that he was sending 20 "Bundeszeugnisse" and it is quite possible that this refers to copies of the Vermanung since it is also called "Das Buch der Bundesbezeugung." Robert Friedmann found a handwritten copy of the Vermanung among Hutterite codices in Austria.

Christian August Salig is the first modern writer to indicate knowledge of the Vermanung, and he knew it only through Schwenckfeld's Judicium. Two copies are known to exist, one in the British Museum (photocopy in Mennonite Historical Library [Goshen, Indiana]) and the other in the Württemberg Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart, from which the modern edition published in the Gedenkschrift was prepared. An English translation has been made (in Mennonite Historical Library [Goshen, Indiana]).


Bergsten, Torsten. "Pilgram Marbeck und seine Auseinandersetzung mit Caspar Schwenckfeld." Kyrkohistorisk Arsskrift. 1957 and 1958 (Uppsala).

Fast, Heinold. "Pilgram Marbeck und das oberdeutsche Täufertum." Archiv für Reformationsge­schichte (1956): 232.

Gedenkschrift zum 400-jährigen Jubiläum der Mennoniten .  .  . Karlsruhe, 1925: 185-281.

Kiwiet, Jan J. Pilgram Marbeck. Kassel, 1957.

Salig, Christian A. Vollstandige Historie der Augsburgischen Confession und derselben zugethanen Kirchen III. Halle, 1735: 1113 ff.

Wray, Frank J. "The 'Vermanung' of 1542 and Rothmann's 'Bekentnisse.'" Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte (1956): 243-51.

Author(s) William Klassen
Date Published 1959

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Klassen, William. "Vermanung." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 20 Sep 2020.

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Klassen, William. (1959). Vermanung. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 September 2020, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 816. All rights reserved.

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