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Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #5 Further steps to women’s bibles

In the Wild West women took care their children got a knowledge of the Word of God. In the growing states of the New World the oral tradition of the Word of God ensured the Gospel-readings spreading.

For millennia prior to the invention of writing, which is a very recent phenomenon in the history of humankind, oral tradition served as the sole means of communication available for forming and maintaining societies and their institutions. Moreover, numerous studies — conducted on six continents — have illustrated that oral tradition remains the dominant mode of communication in the 21st century, despite increasing rates of literacy. {Encyclopaedia Britannica}

The States got some very strong ladies, creating schools and congregations where women told in their own words what was written in the Holy Scriptures. In the early nineteenth century, at the European continent and in the colonies where the largest, most influential churches like Catholics and Church of England reigned, they like Presbyterians, and the Episcopalians (or Anglicanism and Episcopal Church in the United States of America) forbade women to preach. In the New World women proved their necessity for leading everything in good directions. Searching the bible and having met people from different denominations many came to conclusions which made them to form newer groups. In a small number of those denominations, particularly the Congregationalists, the restrictions on women’s religious speech became challenged. Professor of Religions in America and the History of Christianity in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, Catherine Brekus whose works have included a history of female preaching in America, entitled Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740 – 1845 (1998) and a history of early evangelicalism based on a woman’s diaries, entitled Sarah Osborn‘s World: The Rise of Evangelicalism in Early America (2013), writes.

“Anti-authoritarian, anti-intellectual, and often visionary, they deliberately set themselves apart from the ‘worldliness’ of established churches by insisting that God could choose anyone — even the poor, uneducated, enslaved, or female — to spread the gospel.”

She briefly traces the story of evangelicals — especially Free Will Baptists, Christian Connection, northern Methodists, African Methodists, and Millerites — who allowed women to preach.

Benjamin Randall (1749-1808) main organizer of the Freewill Baptists (Randall Line) in the Northeastern United States.

Inspired by the preaching of the lay exhorter Benjamin Randall in New Hampshire that Free Will Baptist Association was formed in 1782. By 1780 the various Baptist groups had formed around 450 churches, a number exceeded only by Congregationalists with about 750 and Presbyterians with some 490. With the disappearance of a Puritan orthodoxy at the beginning of the eighteenth century the Congregational churches, whose ideas were based on the priesthood of all believers, developed by Robert Browne and Henry Barrow, and were Calvinist in tone, had opened the way for women preaching and for people telling with their own words what was written in the Bible.

The gradual collapse of state religious establishments after ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1789 served Baptist purposes, and by 1800 they had become for a while the largest denomination in the nation, with almost twice as many adherents as the second-ranked Congregationalists. Those Baptists supported the creation of colleges, seminaries, tract societies, and missionary agencies. Educated leaders provided the impetus for the creation in 1814 of a General Missionary Convention, soon called the Triennial Convention, to sponsor home and foreign missions. Before long, it had allied itself with other agencies to promote publication and education. Several groups considered themselves to be a continuation of the first church where followers of Christ, men and women tried to bring people to God and have them baptised by immersion, the only true form of Christian baptism. At the end of the 20th century it would be the pressure of the major trinitarian Baptist groups, like the 13.9 million Southern Baptist Convention which would make the non-trinitarian Baptists looking for other congregations, but still leaving 26,7 million U.S.A. Baptists.

Brekus notes how fearing the colonies’ established churches had “quenched the spirit” by requiring college education for ministers, evangelicals said

“God could communicate directly with people through dreams, visions, and voices,”

and appealed to Joel’s promise (quoted by Peter at Pentecost) to invest

“female preaching with transcendent significance. Whenever a woman stood in the pulpit, she was a visible reminder that Christ might soon return to earth.”

Yet influenced by the wider culture, they did not think the Bible sanctioned their equality with men in Church, home, or political life. Rather than seeking ordination and settled pastorates, they remained itinerate evangelists. So, these biblical feminists were caught between two worlds — too radical to be accepted by evangelicals, but too conservative to be accepted by women’s rights activists. {Christian Reflection; A Series in Faith and Ethics}

Waves of Irish Presbyterians flooded into the middle and southern colonies, which tolerated their religious beliefs, and flowed into the unoccupied western regions. Some were established congregations who brought their ministers with them; most immigrated as individuals or in small family groups and were followed by clergymen. But the Presbyterian Church in England, re-established in 1844, was reported to have only 76 places of worship in 1851 — one-fifth the number of quaker meeting-houses. {J. A. Cannon; The Oxford Companion to British History; 2002}
A Plan of Union with the Congregational associations of New England that existed from 1792 until 1837 was disrupted when the Old School Presbyterians, favoring separate denominational agencies for missionary and evangelistic work, prevailed. The Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions was then established.

The P.C.U.S.A split in 1837 to become New School Presbyterians and Old School Presbyterians.

The P.C.U.S.A split in 1837 to become New School Presbyterians and Old School Presbyterians.

Placing great importance upon education and lifelong learning the Presbyterians and their missionary schools also prepared others to think about the Word of God and to spread it around.

Several men and women brought their notes to the bible words and also did not mind when preaching to quote freely from the bible. In this way the Americans got used to an easy fluent language to tell about God His sayings and wonders.

Gradually, the evangelicals’ educational systems, church organizations, and worship styles became more like those of churches that had been established and wealthy in the colonial era but many Bible students, followers of Dr. John Thomas and of Charles Taze Russell continued to spread the Word of God in their own words and in Bible fragments translated to American English in tracts and magazines.

The Christadelphians offered people the Wilson’s polyglot translation for free. When Benjamin Wilson died in 1900, his heirs inherited the plates and copyright. When they were approached by Charles Taze Russell, then president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, he via a third party obtained the copyright, and at some later point, the plates. The Society published the Diaglott in 1902, and later had the type reset for publication on its own presses in 1927, with an additional printing in 1942.

Much discussion went on between the other Bible-student parties involved in the first edition and still using the version in their churches or ecclesia. Unto the exclusiveness to reprint the polyglot for public release the Christadelphians and Wilson his church had to keep reproduction only for their own members.
In 2003 the MiamiChurch of the Blessed Hope with support from Christadelphians in the United Kingdom and the United States published their own edition, with a new preface, and where pleased the Emphatic Diaglott at last came home again.

Christadelphians, Watchtower Biblestudents and others looked at the return of Christ, a terrible war where nations would get against many other nations, but also were aware that Jerusalem would be restored after some time.

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (1843–1921) American theologian, minister, and writer whose best-selling annotated Bible popularized futurism and dispensationalism among fundamentalist Christians.

From English and Puritan descent the American orphan Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (1843–1921) converted to evangelical Christianity through the testimony of a lawyer acquaintance. He came under the mentorship of James H. Brookes, pastor of Walnut Street Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, a prominent dispensationalist premillennialist. He also attempted with limited success to take charge of Dwight L. Moody‘s Northfield Bible Training School, and served as superintendent of the American Home Missionary Society of Texas and Louisiana; and in 1890, he helped found Lake Charles College (1890–1903) in Lake Charles, Louisiana and in 1914 founded the Philadelphia School of the Bible in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (now Cairn University)

Scofield’s premillennialism seemed prophetic.

“At the popular level, especially, many people came to regard the dispensationalist scheme as completely vindicated.”

Scofield Reference Bible, page 1115. This page includes Scofield’s note on John 1:17, which some have interpreted to mean that Scofield believed in two means of salvation.

The first bible translation, since the Geneva Bible (1560), to bring a commentary on the biblical text alongside the Bible instead of in a separate volume, also attempted to date events of the Bible in its second edition (1917) eight years after its first edition. This Scofield Reference Bible, published by Oxford University Press in 1909 contained the entire text of the traditional, Protestant King James Version, and became a widely circulated study Bible edited and annotated by this American Bible student Cyrus I. Scofield, whose notes teach futurism and dispensationalism, a theology that was systematized in the early nineteenth century by the Anglo-Irish clergyman John Nelson Darby, one of the influential figures among the original Plymouth Brethren (Christian brethren, or Darbyites) and the founder of the Exclusive Brethren, (who like Scofield had also been trained as a lawyer).

John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) Anglo-Irish Bible teacher, one of the influential figures among the original Plymouth Brethren and the founder of the Exclusive Brethren.

In 1867 ex curate in the Church of Ireland parish of Delgany, County Wicklow, Darby had presented a translation of the New Testament which he revised for the editions in 1872 and 1884.  He declined however to contribute to the compilation of the Revised Version of the King James Bible. After his death, some of his students produced an Old Testament translation based on Darby’s French and German translations in which we may see Darby’s dependence on W. H. Westcott’s Congo vernacular Bible, Victor Danielson’s Faroese work and the Romanian Bible published by G.B.V. and Dillenburg, Germany (GBV)

It was after 25 years serious research that in 1881 the British bishop, biblical scholar and theologian, and Bishop of Durham, Brooke Foss Westcott (1825–1901) with Irish-born theologian and editor Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828–1892) had presented their “New Testament in the Original Greek” on the believe that the combination of Codex Bezae with the Old Latin and the Old Syriac represents the original form of the New Testament text. Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort their Greek translation was used as the base fro many later translations.

The Revised Version of the New Testament translators, 1881.

They also were asked to become translation committee members for the Revised Version which in the United States was adapted and revised as the “Revised Version, Standard American Edition” (better known as the American Standard Version) in 1901.

Those translations using the advanced knowledge of the newly found ancient manuscripts and better insight in the old language, received until today opposition from fervent “King James Only” people. Up to today those King James only people say that is the only worthy and true Bible, also forgetting that other people who speak an other language than would be deprived of God’s Word in the Bible. Those KJV-only people complaining that the or a new translation did not base their text on the 1611 KJV forget that it should not be based on that text but on the most original bible manuscripts we can find. The last straw is that many who swear by only the KJV itself do not use themselves the original version and worse even do not know what print edition they use and that this has many differences against the 1611 edition.

Problem with those KJV-only believers is that they want to have their church doctrines still confirmed in the new translations though those versions using the Name of God where it was placed, makes it clear about whom is spoken and about who speaks, so that no confusing is being made between God and Jesus and shows clearly that it are two different characters. Therefore, it mostly are ardent trinitarians who do not want to accept versions which come closer to the original ancient writings, because this way people believing in the Trinity may come to see that it is a human doctrine and not a Biblical doctrine, and as such they may come to see that the non-trinitarian churches are much more following God’s Word than their church want them to believe.

Lots of KJV-only people also do not want to have the real translation or a synonym for a word they use wrongly, like sheol or the hell which just means the grave or sepulchre, but when a bible translation like the NIV translates it with the “grave” they consider an attack on the KJV word of “hell” they understanding it to be a place of eternal doom and torture.

The KJV-only people believe that this English translation of the Authorised King James Version should never be changed, but do not see or forget that they themselves use also a changed version and not the original 1611 first version.

A staunch Seventh-day Adventist missionary, theology professor and college president was even more stepped on his toes when the Bible Students of the Zion’s Watchtower dared to bring out a modern English translation based on that Westcott-Hort translation and on the Greek texts of Nestle, Bover, Merk and others.

Not only women and children had asked for a less archaic Bible translation.

On December 2, 1947 a “New World Bible Translation Committee” was formed, composed of Jehovah’s Witnesses who professed to be anointed.

The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was released at a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses at Yankee Stadium, New York, on August 2, 1950. The translation of the Old Testament, which Jehovah’s Witnesses refer to as the Hebrew Scriptures, was released in five volumes in 1953, 1955, 1957, 1958, and 1960. The complete New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures was released as a single volume in 1961, and has since undergone minor revisions and standing strong between the 55 new English translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures which were published between 1952 and 1990.

They also reproduced The Greek transliterations for the Christian Greek Scripture portion of the Bible from the Westcott and Hort text in The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (1969).

While critical of some of its translation choices, , associate professor of religious studies at Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S.A., Jason BeDuhn called the New World Translation a “remarkably good” translation, “better by far” and “consistently better” than some of the others considered. Overall, concluded BeDuhn, the New World Translation

“is one of the most accurate English translations of the New Testament currently available”


“the most accurate of the translations compared.”

in his 2003 book, Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Bias in English Translations of the New Testament, which has generated considerable controversy for highlighting cases of theological bias in the translation process, by which, he argues, contemporary Christian views are anachronistically introduced into the Bible versions upon which most modern English-speaking Christians rely.

BeDuhn noted, too, that many translators were subject to pressure

“to paraphrase or expand on what the Bible does say in the direction of what modern readers want and need it to say.”

On the other hand, the New World Translation is different, observed BeDuhn, because of

“the greater accuracy of the NW as a literal, conservative translation of the original expressions of the New Testament writers.”

The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures by 2004 had been made available in 32 languages plus 2 Braille editions and two years later already in 57 languages.

The 1984 revised edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures richly enhanced accurate Bible knowledge by means of several distinctive features such as the marginal (cross) references, an extensive footnote apparatus, a concordance (Bible Words Indexed) and an appendix. Modern computerization has assisted greatly in preparing these features.

In the New World Translation an effort was made to capture the authority, power, dynamism and directness of the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures and to convey these characteristics in modern English. They also made an end to the used of  now-sanctimonious formal pronouns thou, thy, thine, thee and ye, with their corresponding verb inflections.

Many trinitarians were not pleased with that translation which tried to give as literal a translation as possible where the modern-English idiom allows and where a literal rendition does not, by any awkwardness, hide the thought, but which also placed in the Hebrew text everywhere the tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH) was notated, printed God’s Holy Name Jehovah. As such God His Name was again visible, like in the ancient manuscripts,  6,973 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and 237 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Though it may be called a pity that they also did not take the effort to put Jesus name right, not going for the Issou or “Hail Zeus“, but printing his real original name Jeshua.

With this word-for-word statement of the original in the hand the real followers of Christ could show those who call themselves Christian, but do follow the human doctrine of the Trinity, where they went wrong in their thinking and could show them that Jesus is the way to God and not God himself.

But in this clear up-to-date contemporary version many churches saw a danger for their followers who could be brought to other thinking than their denomination’s doctrines.

In the previous decades several paraphrased bible book translations had seen the light and many bible students also had used free translations in their pamphlets. This time taking liberties with the texts for the mere sake of brevity, and substituting some modern parallel when a literal rendering of the original makes good sense, had been avoided. Uniformity of rendering has been maintained by assigning one meaning to each major word and by holding to that meaning as far as the context permits. At times this has imposed a restriction upon word choice, but it aids in cross-reference work and in comparing related texts.

In rendering the sense and feel of the action and state of Hebrew verbs into English, it is not always possible to preserve the brevity due to a lack of corresponding colour in English verb forms. Hence, auxiliary words that lengthen the expression are at times required to bring out the vividness, mental imagery and dramatic action of the verbs, as well as the point of view and the concept of time expressed by the Bible writers. In general the same is true of the Greek verbs. Thus, imperfect verbs have been kept in the imperfect state denoting progressive action. Participles have been rendered as participles involving continuous action.


Preceding articles:

Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #1 Pre King James Bible

Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #2 King James Bible versions

Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #3 Women and versions

Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #4 Steps to the women’s bibles


Additional reading

  1. Codex Sinaiticus available for perusal on the Web
  2. Bible Translating and Concordance Making
  3. Looking at notes of Samuel Ward and previous Bible translation efforts in English
  4. Written and translated by different men over thousands of years
  5. Rare original King James Bible discovered
  6. King James Bible Coming into being
  7. Celebrating the Bible in English
  8. TheBible4Life KJV Jubileum
  9. What English Bible do you use?
  10. The Most Reliable English Bible
  11. 2001 Translation an American English Bible
  12. NWT and what other scholars have to say to its critics
  13. New American Bible Revised Edition
  14. The NIV and the Name of God
  15. Archeological Findings the name of God YHWHUse of /Gebruik van Jehovah or/of Yahweh in Bible Translations/Bijbel vertalingen
  16. Dedication and Preaching Effort 400 years after the first King James Version
  17. Hebrew, Aramaic and Bibletranslation
  18. Some Restored Name Versions
  19. Anchor Yale Bible
  20. iPod & Android Bibles
  21. Missed opportunity for North Korea
  22. What are Brothers in Christ
  23. Wanting to know more about basic teachings of Christadelphianism
  24. Around C.T.Russell
  25. A visible organisation on earth
  26. Grave, tomb, sepulchre – graf, begraafplaats, rustplaats, sepulcrum
  27. Jesus three days in hell
  28. Dead and after
  29. Sheol or the grave
  30. This month’s survey question: Heaven and Hell
  31. Interpreting the Scriptures (Part 5)
  32. Leaving the Old World to find better pastures (1)
  33. Leaving the Old World to find better pastures (2)
  34. Approachers of ideas around gods, philosophers and theologians
  35. To remove the whitewash of the Jehovah Witnesses as being the only true Bible Students and Bible Researchers
  36. Archaeology and the Bible researcher 2/4


Further reading

  1. The Bible
  2. Where was the Bible before 1611? How can we know God endorsed the KJV?
  3. Earliest Known Draft of 1611 King James Bible Is Found
  4. KJV Onlyism: What It Does And Doesn’t Mean
  5. What’s wrong with the New King James?
  6. Is it true no doctrines are changed in modern versions?
  7. The King James AV 1611 Bible vs. The New International Version
  8. King James version (1)
  9. King James Version 2
  10. I got saved reading the NIV. How can you say it’s no good?
  11. Christian Scholars Admit To Corrupting The Bible
  12. Why should God’s Word be restricted to English?
  13. Some Notes on Bible Translations
  14. Which Bible Translation?
  15. Is Christianity a paradox?
  16. Migration in a context of colonisation
  17. The sorrow and burden of it all
  18. A Belgian refugee in Maidenhead finds work
  19. When the boys come home…
  20. Do not be dissuaded by so paltry a matter as a change of time
  21. “I often wonder why I joined up”
  22. Dedicating the Powner Hall
  23. A dinner treat for the Congregational men
  24. Church Hill
  25. That We May All Be One: World Communion Sunday, 2015
  26. History, Empathy, and Race in America
  27. Empathy, racial reconciliation, and the study of history
  28. “The End of White Christian America”
  29. The calling we have in culture
  30. A. W. Tozer and the Historic Trinity
  31. Tozer’s Critique of Evangelical Christians
  32. Corporate Evangelicalism – Where did it come from?
  33. Defining Evangelicalism
  34. Decline and Fall
  35. Fundamentalism Will Kill You
  36. Progressive Evangelicals: Who We Are And What We Believe
  37. How Evangelicals are Losing an Entire Generation – by Amy Gannett
  38. On celebrating diversity within the church
  39. Evangelicalism is no longer growing–why?
  40. The Scofield Bible—The Book That Made Zionists of America’s Evangelical Christians
  41. Becoming a Liberal Christian Part I: High Church and Militant Evangelicalism
  42. Reformed Baptists and the Purity of the Church
  43. The Westminster Factor
  44. Of Polls, Presbyterians, and Seventh-Day Adventists
  45. Understanding the Presbyterian Model (Reformed the web)
  46. Understanding the Presbyterian Model (Chanty notes)
  47. “Episcopals Now Second Class Christians”: Anglicans Demote Episcopalians As Global Christianity Gets More Polarized
  48. Am I a Presbyterian?
  49. Daniel’s 70-Week Vision Series #18 – Part 94 of Riddles, Enigmas & Esoteric Imagery of Revelation
  50. At the resurrection who is left behind?
  51. A Thousand Years
  52. News brings great joy
  53. Confirmation
  54. Bible Wars
  55. How Trustworthy Are Bible Translations?
  56. How I Know The King James Bible is the Word of God
  57. King James Only–Refuted part 2
  58. King James Only–Refuted (part 3)
  59. Ways in which Fundamentalists are discriminated against
  60. Between Christians
  61. Repentance From Dead Works: 3 – Don’t Forget Good Works Are Dead Works
  62. Communion – the most terrifying sacrament in the IFB church
  63. Spirit of our times.
  64. King James XX
  65. I believe the King James Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.  
  66. Is Modern Really Better?
  67. How some preachers trick you when defining Greek words!
  68. What’s wrong with the New King James?
  69. Is it true no doctrines are changed in modern versions?
  70. I got saved reading the NIV. How can you say it’s no good?
  71. Why should God’s Word be restricted to English?
  72. Transilvania în 1865, prin ochii lui Edward Millard – blogul unui duh întarâtat





Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #12 Anabaptisten


De Lyonese koopman, Petrus Waldo (of Waldus, ook Valdez)(ca. 1140-1206) las in het evangelie volgens Mattheus 19:21 dat Jezus een rijke jongeman opdraagt al zijn bezit te verkopen ten bate van de armen. Waldo raakte hiervan zo onder de indruk dat hij besloot dit voorbeeld te volgen. Hij gaf zijn bezit aan de armen en ging prediken. Gelijkaardig aan de arme priesters van Engeland vindt hij dat een goed christen een bezitloos en arm leven moet leiden.

Petrus Waldo

Waldes’ volgelingen trokken rond op sandalen in de Provence, Languedoc, Sicilië en in de dalen van Piemonte bij Torino, waarbij mannen èn vrouwen predikten.  Hier komt duidelijk de opvolging van Christus leer om te prediken naar voor, waarbij er totaal geen sprake is van een geestelijke hiërarchie. Het zijn allemaal Broeders van Christus die Jezus’ voorbeeld navolgen en de Blijde boodschap verkondigen. Omdat zij dit als leken deden, veroordeelde de paus paus Lucius III hen op het concilie van Verona in 1184 als ketters. Hij herhaalde dit op het concilie van Lateranen in 1215 nog eens. Doordat ze in de ban werden gedaan, werden ze eeuwenlang vervolgd en werden tienduizenden Waldenzen vermoord. Toch nam hun aantal toe in Zuid-Frankrijk en Noord-Italië. Aanvankelijk werden zij gesteund door de Zuid-Franse adel, die zich op deze wijze los wilde maken van de koning van Frankrijk. Het meest bekende bloedbad is dat van Mérindol en Cabrières in de Zuidelijke Luberon in 1545. Door het Edict van Nantes uit 1598 kregen de protestanten in Frankrijk godsdienstvrijheid, maar Lodewijk XIV herriep dit edict in 1685, waardoor er opnieuw een verdrukkingsgolf ontstond. Er werd een kruistocht tegen de Waldenzen gericht. Ze verborgen zich echter in de dalen van de Alpen, ten zuidwesten van Turijn. De groep telde ongeveer 700 mensen. Het koninklijk leger probeerde hen daar te verslaan, waarna er slechts 250 mensen over waren.

Pijniging van Waldenzen te Atrecht, Luyken, Casper (1672-1708) 1700 prent

Als ernstige Bijbelonderzoekers en Bijbelgetrouwen vonden de Waldenzen dat zij zich niet mochten verzetten met geweld en verwierpen de wapendracht. Zij wensten ook geen eden af te leggen en onthielden zich van en allerlei kathaarse theorieën en kerkelijke gewoonten zoals aflaatpraktijken en het opdragen van missen voor de overledenen.

Uit de Waldenzen ontstonden doopsgezinde broeders. Omstreeks het jaar 1525 traden de anabaptisten voor het eerst op de voorgrond, en wel in Zürich (Zwitserland). Vanuit die stad verbreidden hun geloofsovertuigingen zich snel naar veel delen van Europa. De vroege zestiende-eeuwse Reformatie had enkele veranderingen teweeggebracht, maar naar de mening van de anabaptisten was men niet ver genoeg gegaan. De doopsgezinden waren onafhankelijke Broeders in Christus. Doordat er geen hierarchie was of een algemeen besturend orgaan vormden zij een  beweging met een groot aantal verschillende groepen met eigen theologische opvattingen. Doch kan men stellen dat de belangrijkste gemeenschappelijke kenmerken van de dopers de opvatting is dat wedergeboorte de voorwaarde is voor het toedienen van de doop. Om wedergeborente kunnen worden moet men besef hebben van wat men gedaan heeft.  Als men het leven is ingegaan is men geboren, maar als men tot Jezus Christus komt en zich wil overgeven aan God kan men tot een wedergeboorte komen. Met volheid van verstand kan men enkel die keuze maken. Daarom kan men alleen volwassenen dopen. Omdat men zelfs aan iemand die als baby was gedoopt verzocht zich te laten “herdopen”, gaf men hun de naam „anabaptisten”, wat „wederdopers” betekent.  (Matthéüs 28:19; Handelingen 2:41; 8:12; 10:44-48)

Groepsdoop in een rivier van de Anabaptisten, schilderij van Jeanron

De onafhankelijke opstelling, in het verlengde van de gedachte van de Waldenzen en “poor priests” of “arme priesters” maakte dat zij ook een kerk zagen als een vereniging op basis van vrijwilligheid, los van invloed van de staat, waartoe mensen als zij tot de jaren van verstand waren gekomen konden toetreden. Zij die gedoopt waren moesten dit doopsel ook tot uiting brengen in hun geloof en hun daden. Zij moesten geen academisch geschoolde theologen worden, maar het prediken moest in hun hart en op hun tong liggen. Op deze punten braken de dopers met de middeleeuwse traditie waarin de samenleving gezien werd als een christelijke maatschappij (het corpus christianum) en liepen zij vooruit op de moderne scheiding van kerk en staat.

In hun verlangen tot de christelijke leer van de eerste eeuw terug te keren, verwierpen zij meer van het rooms-katholieke dogma dan Maarten Luther en andere hervormers hadden gedaan.

„Voor de anabaptisten was de ware Kerk een gemeenschap van gelovigen”, schrijft dr. R. J. Smithson in zijn boek The AnabaptistsTheir Contribution to Our Protestant Heritage.Als zodanig beschouwden zij zich als een vereniging van gelovigen binnen de gemeenschap als geheel, en in het begin kenden zij geen speciaal opgeleide of betaalde predikanten. Evenals Jezus’ discipelen waren zij rondtrekkende predikers die steden en dorpen bezochten en de mensen aanspraken op de markt, in werkplaatsen en in huizen. (Matthéüs 9:35; 10:5-7, 11-13; Lukas 10:1-3). Voor hen moesten er geen speciale kerkgebouwen zijn om God te aanbidden en kon dat even goed in een schuur gedaan worden, wat dan ook meermaals gebeurde om de vele volgelingen op te vangen.

Anabaptist martelaar Maria van Beckum haar broeders vrouw, 1554

Men ging ervan uit dat elke anabaptist persoonlijk rekenschap verschuldigd was aan God, dat hij een vrije wil bezat en zijn geloof door middel van zijn werken toonde maar toch wist dat redding niet alleen door werken werd verkregen. Als iemand tegen het geloof zondigde, kon hij uit de gemeente worden geworpen, want voor hen was het belangrijk dat de gehele gemeenschap zuiver bleef. Verschillen in opvatting over de omgang met zondaars en de mate van wereldmijding leidden tot een grote versplintering van de beweging. Herstel volgde alleen nadat oprecht berouw was getoond. (1 Korinthiërs 5:11-13; vergelijk 2 Korinthiërs 12:21).

Net als de vroege christenen werden ook de anabaptisten niet begrepen. En net als de vroege christenen werden zij beschouwd als personen die de gevestigde maatschappelijke orde verstoorden en ’de bewoonde aarde ondersteboven keerden’ (Handelingen 17:6). In Zürich kantten de autoriteiten, die aan de zijde stonden van de hervormer Huldrych Zwingli, zich vooral tegen de anabaptisten omdat zij de kinderdoop verwierpen. In 1527 brachten zij Felix Mantz, een van de anabaptistische leiders, op wrede wijze door verdrinking om het leven en vervolgden zij de Zwitserse anabaptisten zo hevig, dat zij bijna werden uitgeroeid.

In Duitsland werden de anabaptisten zowel door de katholieken als de protestanten hevig vervolgd. Een keizerlijke verordening, die in het jaar 1528 werd uitgevaardigd, bepaalde dat een ieder die anabaptist werd, zonder enige vorm van proces ter dood gebracht zou worden. De vervolging in Oostenrijk deed de meeste aldaar woonachtige anabaptisten hun toevlucht zoeken in Moravië, Bohemen en Polen, en later in Hongarije en Rusland.

Toen zo veel oorspronkelijke leiders stierven, was het onvermijdelijk dat extremisten op de voorgrond traden. Zij brachten een onevenwichtigheid met zich mee die aanleiding gaf tot veel verwarring en tot gevolg had dat men de maatstaven die men in de beginperiode had gehanteerd, liet varen. Dit trad op tragische wijze aan het licht in het jaar 1534, toen de extremisten met geweld het stadsbestuur van Münster (Westfalen) overnamen. Het jaar daarop werd de stad na veel bloedvergieten en martelingen heroverd. Deze episode strookte niet met de werkelijke anabaptistische leer en heeft er veel toe bijgedragen hen in diskrediet te brengen. Sommige gelovigen trachtten zich van de naam anabaptisten te ontdoen door zich „baptisten” te noemen. Maar welke naam zij ook kozen, zij werden toch nog het slachtoffer van oppositie en in het bijzonder van de katholieke inquisitie.

Melchior Hofmann (ca. 1500 – 1543) van oorsprong een Lutherse lekenprediker hield er chiliastische ideeën op na, wat inhield dat hij er in geloofde dat na de wederkomst van Christus een duizendjarig vrederijk en/of een paradijs op aarde zou vestigen. Met zijn apocalyptische preken en geschriften had hij grote invloed op het ontstaan van het doperse rijk van Münster in 1534 onder leiding van de door Jan Matthijs gedoopte Jan van Leiden (Jan of Johan Beukelsz van Leiden, Johann Bockelson of Johan Beukelszoon) (15091536) die het niet zo nauw nam met getrouwheid aan één vrouw en er 17 tot zich nam.

Melchior Hofmann

De Haarlemse bakker Jan Matthijs (ook bekend als Jan Matthias, Johan Mathijszoon) (ca. 15001534) was rond 1520 door toedoen van Melchior Hoffman wederdoper geworden. Deze laatste had Matthijs met zijn toekomstvisioenen geïnspireerd. Nadat Hoffman gevangen was gezet werd Matthijs een vooraanstaand leider bij de wederdopers. Hij stuurde Jan van Leiden als apostel naar Münster om de wederdopers aldaar te ondersteunen. De geweldloosheid die Hoffman had uitgedragen werd door Matthijs verworpen. Hij was de mening toegedaan dat bij onderdrukking gewapend verzet geoorloofd was. Met Jan van Leiden en Bernhard Rottmann probeerde hij in Münster een “Duizendjarig vrederijk” te stichten, dat nog geen twee jaar duurde.

Hofmann, die rondreisde in Oost-Friesland en Holland tot 1532 als prediker, wist daar de grondslag te leggen voor een sterke doperse beweging en zijn ideaal van de geweldloosheid werd overgenomen door de latere Friese doperse leider Menno Simons (ca. 14961561), een voormalig rooms-katholiek priester die door heel het Duitse taalgebied christelijke gemeenten oprichtte. deze ging ook uit van het zuivere apostelschap van de christelijke gemeente die volledig zuiver moest gehouden worden, ‘zonder vlek of rimpel’ (Efezen5:27) . Zijn volgelingen worden nu als oudste nog bestaande doperse kerk beschouwd en zijn gekend origine Doopsgezinden. Die mennonieten of mennisten vallen op door hun ouderwetse kledij en gebruiken omdat zij alle hedendaagse ‘onnatuurlijke” hulpmiddelen afzweren. Het streven naar een geweldloze wereld, het weigeren van de eed en de persoonlijke belijdenis van mondige mensen, in plaats van het onderschrijven van de door de kerk vastgelegde teksten is gebleven. Zij kennen noch steeds geen ambtsdragers zoals er ook geen zijn bij de Christadelphians, waar ook niets moet maar mag. De predikanten worden beschouwd als gewoon lid van de gemeente te midden van alle anderen. In 2004 waren er ongeveer 1 miljoen mennonieten en 1,5 miljoen in 2006 met de grootste groeperingen in Canada, de Democratische Republiek van Congo and the Verenigde  Staten van Amerika.

Ten slotte emigreerden groepen anabaptisten, op zoek naar meer vrijheid en vrede. Op het ogenblik treffen wij hen zowel in Noord- en Zuid-Amerika als in Europa aan. Veel groeperingen hebben een zekere invloed ondervonden van hun vroege leerstellingen, zoals onder andere het door George Fox in 1649 opgerichte “Genootschap der Vrienden” dikwijls beter gekend onder de naam Quakers.Verder baptisten en de Plymouth Brethren. De quakers delen de door de anabaptisten gekoesterde haat ten opzichte van oorlog en de gedachte van leiding door een ’innerlijk licht’.

Not a mennonite

Mennonitische zusters

De anabaptisten bestaan thans voornamelijk voort in twee specifieke groeperingen. De eerste is die der Hutterse Broeders, genoemd naar hun zestiende-eeuwse leider Jacob Hutter. In de quakergemeenschap in Nederland, evenals elders in de wereld, bestaan verschillende affiniteiten waaronder een evangelische, vrijzinnig-christelijke en universalistische. Zoals de de minder radicale Mennonietische hoofdstroom en de Alsaser Anabaptistische  schismatise strekking van Jakob Amman (16441730) de Old Order Mennonite en de groep beter gekend onder de naam Amish (Amisch, Amische) of Amish Mennonites heeft men enkele Quaker groeperingen die het werelds genot verwerpen en een ascetisch leven nastreven. Veel Amish gemeenschappen emigreerden  vanaf 1737 vanuit Europa  naar Noord-Amerika omdat hun levenswijze in Europa vaak nauwelijks getolereerd werd. Dit gebeurde onder invloed van de uitnodiging van William Penn die ook de andere religieuze minderheden zoals Quakers en Hernhutters had gevraagd om naar zijn kolonie Pennsylvania in Noord-Amerika te komen om zich daar te vestigen. Zo’n 500 Amish gingen op deze uitnodiging in. In de 19e eeuw, als reactie op politieke (Franse Revolutie) en economische (Industriële revolutie) veranderingen, volgden nog eens 3.000 personen. Als gevolg hiervan stonden in 2005 zo’n 224.000 Amish geregistreerd in 22 Amerikaanse staten, waarvan het merendeel in Pennsylvania, Ohio en Indiana waar zij nog Pennsylvania Dutch of Pennsylvania German spreken. Dezen hebben wel districten die  worden geleid door een bisschop, enkele ministers en diaken.  Hun leden zijn wel gebonden door opgelegde strengen gemeenschapsregels: de Ordnung. Deze regels bedekken de meeste aspecten van het dagelijkse leven en omvatten verboden of beperkingen op het gebruik van elektrische leidingselektriciteit, telefoons en auto’s evenals voorschriften op kledij. Alsook wordt er de voorkeur gehouden zich afstandelijk te houden van de rest van de wereld. Behalve voor een tijdelijk moment wanneer de jongeren voor de beslissing om over te gaan tot hun doop even in de wereld worden losgelaten om zo hun keuze te bepalen. Deze kennismaking met de rest van de wereld tijdens adolescentie wordt rumspringa (Rumschpringe of Rumshpringa) of “rondlopen” genoemd. Niet alle amishe mennonieten gebruiken deze term (in de verlengde discussie over adolescentie treft men het niet aan bij die van Hostetler) , maar in groepen die het wel doen wordt deze tijd door de amishe ouderen aanschouwd als een tijd voor verkering en het vinden van een echtgenoot/echtgenote. Bij de Amish die zich verzette tegen autogebruik werd de Groffdale Conferentie mennonietische  Kerk of Groffdale Conference Mennonite Church (die ook naar Bisschop Joseph Wenger is genoemd). De rest van de Weaverland Conferentie is gekend onder de naam Horning Church of “Black-bumped Mennonites” (Zwart-Verdrongen mennonieten) voor hun vroegere gewoonte om van hun gekochte auto’s het opzichtige chroom met zwarte verf te verdoezelen.

Mennonitisch zusters anno 2011 zonder gordel

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