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Studies in the Radical Reformation (1517–1618): A Bibliographical Survey of Research Since 1939

  • George Huntston Williams (a1)


In a current issue of The Library of Christian Classics1 the present reporter distinguished between a “radical Reformation” and the “magisterial Reformation” of the normative Protestant Reformers, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Cranmer, and their associates. Common to all groupings within this Radical Reformation was the unwillingness to depend upon or tarry for the magistracy to reform the Church in root and branch, be the magistrate emperor, king, prince, or collectively the town council.



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1. Vol. XXV, Anabaptist and Spiritual Writers (Philadelphia, 1957), Introduction.

2. Geist und Schrift bei Sebastian Frauck: Eine Studie zur Geschichte des Spiritualismus in der Refornationszeit (1892).

3. A parergon appears as “Anabaptists in Thessalonica?,” MQR, XXI (1955), 7073.

4. This was followed by a second volume for the period 1600 to 1735: Part I (1940) and Part II Gemeentelijk Leven, 1650–1735. (Edited from the literary remains of the author, 1950).

5. Kühler's doctoral work had been Het Socinianisme in Nederland (1902).

6. In English, MQR, XXVII (1953), 316. Cf. the critical response by Stupperich, R., “Melancthon und die Täufer,” Kerygma und Dogma, III (1957), 150170.

7. The principal holdings are in Bethel College in Kansas and Goshen College in Indiana. Corresponding collections for other American denominations deriving directly or indirectly from the Radical Reformation are the Schwenenfelder Library in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, and the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California which houses the Unitariana collected over a life-time by Earl M. Wilbur.

8. The publishers, through American Mennonite subvention of the still incomplete Mennonitisches Lexikon, acquired English-language publishing rights of the German work. The fresh articles and the often major revisions of the German articles in the light of subsequent research make the American publication more authoritative than the German original.

9. This is a major Church historical publication. (Earlier the Goshen College Record carried comparable articles.) The first 25 volumes are indexed by Springer, Nelson P., MQR, XXVI (1952), 6591; subsequent volumes in XXX (1956), 281–288. A more popular periodical, Mennonite Life, contains occasional historical articles and regularly lists in the April issue since 1947 all Anabaptist-Mennonite books and articles in non-Mennonite periodicals. The corresponding German periodical is the Mennonitische Geschichtsblätter (henceforth: MGB). Mention can be made here of corresponding American denominational periodicals: The Schwenkfeldian, The Proceedings of the Unitarian Historical Society, The Chronicle (American Baptist), The Review and Expositor (Southern Baptist), all of which occasionally present material on the Radical Reformation of the sixteenth century.

10. His “Historiography of the Mennonites in the Netherlands” is a comprehensive account beginning with the primary and secondary literature of the sixteenth century. It was slightly enlarged and revised under the same title in MQR, XVIII (1944), 195224 and then further adapted as an article in ME, II, 758–765.

11. This is a slightly altered version of what appeared as a companion piece to Krahn's article in ME, II, 751–758. This survey absorbs most of Bender's earlier surveys, e.g., “Recent Anabaptist Bibliographies,” MQR, XXIV (1950), 8891.

12. Köhler's survey is entitled “Das Täufertum in der neueren kirchenhistorischen Forschung,” ARG, XXXVI (1940), 93107; XIII (1941), 349–364; XXXIX (1943), 246–270; XLIV (1948), 164–186. Teufel's entitled “Täufertum und Quäkertum im Lichte der neueren Forschung,” actually gives almost attention to Quakers as such and treats only a few Spiritualists and Evangelical Rationalists. It appears in TR, new series, XII (1940), 99179; XIII (1941), 21–57, 103–127, 183–197; XIV (1942), 27–52, 124–154; XV (1943), 56–80; XVII (1948), 161–181; XX (1952), 361–370.

13. The book, supplemented by the other studies, will soon appear in English translation in the Beacon Press, Boston.

14. An earlier work much more closely related to our theme than some of the more recent studies by philologists and Neerlandici is that of Loosjes, J., “De Invloed der Rederijkers op de Hervorming,” Stemmen voor Vaarheid en Vrede, XLVI (1909), 246, 359, 413, 609.

15. Above at n. 6.

16. Littell has also written a brief up-to-date synoptic account in Brethren Life and Thought, II, (1957), 1320, which will later appear as “Anabaptists” in the Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists.

17. By Jan Kiwiet, discussed below in connection with Pilgram Marpeck.

18. On the significance thereof, see Bender, H., “The Discipline Adopted by the Strasburg Conference,” MQR, I (1927), 5766.

19. As an antiquarian note, attention may be called to the fact that Burrage prepared the first research-progress report on the left wing for the Society, “The Anabaptists of the Sixteenth Century,” American Society of Church History, Reports and Papers, III (1890), 145164.

20. Gedenkschrift sum 400 jährigen Jubiläum der Taufgesinnten oder Mennoniten, ed. by Christian Neff (Ludwigshafen, 1925). Among other valuable contributions the Gedenkschrift contains Pilgram Marbeck's Vermanung of 1542, edited by J. Loserth.

21. “La Préhistoire de l'Anabaptisme à Zurich,” Mélanges historiques offerts à M. Jean Meyerhoffer (Lausanne, 1952), 1729; “Die Entstehung der ältesten Täufergemeinde,” TZ, VIII (1952), 241 ff., translated into English for MQR, XXVII (1953), 1733.

22. We have mentioned Vol. I, Zurich. Vol. II is on Eastern Switzerland.

23. Cf. Feller, Richard, “Anfänge des Täufertums in Bern,” Archiv des historischen Vereins des Kantons Bern, XXXI (1932), 105122.

24. After n. 9. A useful orientation to the whole project is that of Bender, H., “Publication and Research Projects in Anabaptist-Mennonite History,” MQR, XXIII (1949), esp. pp. 4852 and more succinctly and with adjustment to exigencies in the editorial policy, MQR, XXXI (1957) esp. p. 99: and more recently, Walter Eisenbeis, ML, January, 1957. For impressions of the contents of the several volumes, see Köhler, W., “Das Täufertum …,” ARG, XL (1940), esp. 250256; Teufel, E., “Täufertum …,” TR, XIV (1942), 27 to the end of the instalments.

25. An earlier, often unnoticed work on Nuremberg may be mentioned here: Evans, Austin, An Episode in the Struggle for Religious Freedom: The Sectaries of Nuremberg, 1524–1528 (New York, 1924).

26. Drawn upon by Bainton, R., “The Great Commission,” ML, VIII (1953), 183188.

27. Discussed in MQR, XXVII (1953), 158 f.; MGB, X (1952), 15.

28. There are scarcely any recent studies of Anabaptism in Germanic France. Since 1918 the Protestant community has had perhaps enough to do to vindicate the Protestant tradition in Strasbourg; and the Radicals have been left to slumber in the archives. Thus Hulsof's, AbrahamGeschiedenis van de Doopsgezinden te Straatsburg van 1525 tot 1557 (Amsterdam, 1905) remains unsurpassed. Mention can be made of the useful Inventaire des archives du chapitre de St. Thomas (1937) with Anabaptistica; Ritter, François, Histoire de l'imprimérie alsacienne aux XVe et XVIe siècle (Strasbourg, 1955); Burg, A. M.'s Catholic Histoire de l'Eglise d'Alsace (Strasbourg, 1945), and the corresponding Histoire du protestantisme en Alsace (Strasbourg, 1950) by Henri Strohl, neither of which makes more than passing references to the Anabaptists; Geiser, S., “Mennonites of Switzerland and France,” MQR, XI (1937), 4460, largely modern; Mathiat, Charles, Récherches historiques sur les anabaptistes de l'ancienns principalité de Montbéliard (1922), (since the Reformation Era).

29. See also on an even smaller scale, Eder, Hans, ed., Die evangelische Kirche in Oesterreich: Blüte, Not und neuer Aufbau (Berlin, 1940), cap. i by P. Dedic.

30. Two brief popular accounts told by Hutterites are those of Arnold, Eberhard, The Hutterian Brethren (1939) and Hofer, Peter, The Hutterian Brethren and their Beliefs (Starbuck, Minn., 1955).

31. A sequel of the Chronicle, covering the Hutterite pilgrimage beyond the Reformation Era, was published by Ziegelschmid as Das Klein-Geschichtsbuch der Hutterischen Brüder (1947). He also discusses unpublished Hutterite epistles, MQR, XV (1941), 525, 118140.

32. See Bender, H., “Anabaptist Manuscripts in the Archives at Brno, Czechoslovakia,” MQR, XXIII (1949), 105107.

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Church History
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  • EISSN: 1755-2613
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