Vos, Karel (1874-1926)

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Karel Vos, born 22 August 1874 at Rotterdam, died 30 May 1926 at Middelstum, a Dutch Mennonite pastor and outstanding historian. He was a son of Jan M. Vos, a (non-Mennonite) schoolteacher at Rotter­dam, and Wilhemina Wijbrands (Mennonite). The pastors and historians Aemilius W. Wijbrands and C. N. Wijbrands were his uncles, and W. J. Kühler was his cousin.

Vos was trained for the ministry at the Amster­dam University and the Mennonite seminary. He only served two small congregations—Woudsend 1903-1911 and Middelstum 1911-d.1926. This enabled him to devote himself to the study of theological problems and particularly to the study of the history of the Dutch Mennonites, to which he was stimulated by S. Cramer, his professor in Mennonite his­tory in Amsterdam. His most important work in this field is his book Menno Simons 1496-1561. Zijn leven en werken zijne Reformatorische Denkbeelden (Leiden, 1914). For this book, the first up-to-date biography of this great leader, he did pains­taking work. One of the results was that the years of birth and death of Menno could with great prob­ability be fixed at 1496 and 1561.

Besides this book, Vos published a large number of papers in De Zondagsbode and Doopsgezinde Bijdragen: "Jan Jansz Schot" (1905), "De Doopsge­zinden te Ouddorp-Goedereede" (1907), "De Doops­gezinden te Middelharnis-Sommelsdijk" (1908), "De Doopsgezinden te Schiedam" (1909), "De doop bij overstorting" (1911), "Jaartallen uit het leven van Menno Simons" (1912), "Kleine bijdragen over de Doopersche beweging in Nederland tot het optreden van Menno Simons" (1917); in De Gids he published "Reyer Anslo's Overgang" (1906), "Rem­brandt's Geloof" (1909), and "Revolutionnaire Hervorming" (1920); some of his publications in Nederlandsch Archief voor Kerkschiedenis were "De copia der Outsten" (1911), "Meyndert van Emden" (also 1911), "Anabaptisten te Ahaus" (1914), "De Avondmaalsbediening bij de Doopsgezinden" (1915); in Groningsche Volkalmanak are found "Menno Simons in Groningen" and "Claas Ganglofs" (both 1919), "Brief over den watersnood in 1717" and "Doopsgezinde families onder Middelstum" (both 1921); "De Dooplijst van Leenaert Bouwens" is found in Bijdr. en Mededeelingen v. h. Hist. Genootschap (XXXVI, 1915), "De Doopsgezinden te Antwerpen" in Bulletin de la Commission Royale d'Histoire de Belgique (vol. LXXXIV, 1920). In the great historical survey (2 vols.) Rotterdam in den loop der Eeuwen (Rotterdam, 1907) he published in Vol. II a chapter on "De Geschiedenis der Doops­gezinde Gemeente te Rotterdam" (also separate edi­tion). For the "Geschriftjes t. b. v. de Doopsgezin­den in de Verstrooiing" he wrote Nos. 28, Onze Doopsgezinde Societeiten; 29, Oranje en de Doops­gezinden; 33, Adam Pastor; 43, Twee brieven van Menno Simons; 44, Balthasar Hubmaier; and 47, De Avondmaalsbediening bij de Doopsgezinden. His last work was an address for the Centennial of the Groningen Conference, but because of bad health he could not attend the meeting; the paper was read by N. van der Zijpp and after Vos's death a few days later, edited by him under the title Het Honderdjarig bestaan der Societeit van Doopsgezinde Gemeenten in Groningen en Oost-Friesland (Groningen, 1926).

Vos also published Levensbericht van C. N. Wijbrands (Leiden, 1914), Aanteekningen voor de Doop-catechisatie (n.p., n.d.), a number of pamphlets on theological and social subjects, and a few ser­mons. Outstanding Dutch newspapers like the Handelsblad and the Nieuwe Rotterdammer Courant published articles of his. Vos also made the index for both the Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica (1910) and Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1912).

Vos was a man of radical liberal conviction; this view also influenced his conception of the history of the Mennonites. He was of the opinion that the revolutionary principles as found among the Münsterites were dominant among the Dutch Anabaptists at least until 1540 and that peaceful views and practices were very scarce in Dutch Anabaptism until that date. This conception was op­posed by W. J. Kühler, John Horsch, Cornelius Krahn, and N. van der Zijpp. A. F. Mellink, how­ever, in De Wederdopers in de Noordelijke Nederlanden 1531-44 (Groningen, 1954) carried forward Vos's theory.

Vos's scholarly qualities are great. During his lifetime his merits were highly esteemed, and he was appointed member of a number of Dutch his­torical societies and associations. After his death he was commemorated in several publications.


Doops­gezinde ]aarboehje (1927): 21-23.

Groningsche  Volksalmanak (1927).

Knappert, L. "Levensbericht van Karel Vos." Jaarboek van de Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (1927): 35-62.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Vos, Karel (1874-1926)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 26 Sep 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Vos,_Karel_(1874-1926)&oldid=133964.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Vos, Karel (1874-1926). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 September 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Vos,_Karel_(1874-1926)&oldid=133964.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 855-856. All rights reserved.

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