Their thirteen comprehensive essays cover the contributions of Karlstadt and Muntzer to the Reformation of the Commoners, the beginnings of Swiss Anabaptism, Swiss and South German Anabaptism from 1526 to 1540, Schwenckfeld and Frank on early modern spiritualism, Anabaptism in Moravia and Silesia, the Melchiorites
and Munster, the spiritualist Anabaptists, Mennonites and Doopsgezinden in the Netherlands from 1535 to 1700, Marpeck and the later Swiss Brethren, Anabaptism literature and hymnody, women and gender roles in Anabaptist and spiritualist groups, Anabaptism martyrdom and its considerations, and the role of Anabaptism in the early modern state.
Isaak calls it a spiritual biography, which is an apt label since it places Menno within the broader theological milieu that gripped the Netherlands in the 1530s, explores his early links with the Melchiorites, and highlights Menno's changing explanation of his relationship with those involved in the tragedy at Munster.
The first arises over the discussion of Menno's possible baptism by the Melchiorites in 1534.
As a study of theological formation the work provides an excellent assessment of how Melchiorite theology shaped Menno's doctrines of incarnation, baptism, and regeneration, but also demonstrates how his own emphasis on praxis, personal regeneration, and communal experience produced a different end product.
469) These Swiss Anabaptists of the late 1530s had been in conversation with Melchiorite
Anabaptists, and considered themselves not to be "brothers," even though, as the Reformed pastors pointed out, the Melchiorites
also were "Anabaptists.
The difference may be that there are no Melchiorites left, but there are plenty of Mennonites, who have generally not been anxious to remember this particular heterodox aspect of their founder's doctrine.
Those who have few or no descendants tend to get marginalized in the historical record: something that affects not only Melchiorite Christology, but magisterial Reformers, like Bucer, who have no institutional successors, or Jan Laski, whose Polish Reformed Church has become tiny and is only now finding its voice in a post-Communist world.
Derksen provides detailed stories of landowners, educated Schwenckfeldians and Melchiorites, educated Strasbourg citizens and village leaders.
He is most successful in describing the educated and elites, notably Melchiorites and Schwenckfelders, and least successful in describing the city's unlearned commoners.
See Werner Packull, "The Melchiorites and the Ziegenhain Order of Discipline, 1538-39," in Walter Klaassen, ed.
From Hoffman would originate a third variety of Anabaptism, namely the Melchiorite Anabaptism that flourished in North Germany and the Netherlands.
Chapters 4 through 6 trace how this rhetorical instability plays out in subsequent Anabaptist writings among Hutterites, Melchiorites
, and Dutch and Swiss Mennonites.