For a little fun on Hallowe’en 2021, this post provides highlights from a short, 8-page pamphlet written in the voice of a ghostly Menno Simons. The Dutch-language pamphlet is anonymous and undated, but it from the early 1780s. This was the era of the Patriot Movement against Orange family rule in the Dutch Republic. One of the leading national organizers of the Movement was the Mennonite preacher in Leiden, François Adriaan van der Kemp. The anonymous author of the pamphlet uses the voice of Ghost Menno to wag a finger at Van der Kemp and his ilk. In 2020s terms, the author seems to be “trolling” democratically oriented, anti-Orange, Dutch Mennonites of the 1780s.
The text below dates from 2013. It is the previous unpublished version of a paper I presented at the annual meeting of the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At the moment there are no notes with the text. I plan to update the text to include at least a bibliography. The title of the paper I presented in San Juan is “Mennonite Printers, Anticonfessionalism, and the Persistence of Dissent in the Netherlands.” Except for updating the title for this post, I have only edited the text of the 2013 paper very lightly.
Part of the reason for publishing the 2013 paper as a blog post now is that my grad student, Brookelnn Cooper, is finishing off her MA research paper, and she is making the case for Colom as the printer / publisher of Menno Simons’ Blasphemy. For more about the Blasphemy, see my post about it here.
ORIGINAL POST (May 2017): The Blasphemy of Jan of Leiden is the oldest text by Menno Simons, and it indicates that he was an early opponent of the Anabaptists of Münster. This, at least, has long been the consensus view about early Mennonite history. A challenge for researchers, however, is that the oldest copy of The Blasphemy is from 1627. This post introduces a project to find out more about this 1627 text.
UPDATE (Sept 2019): The transcription project is still in planning. Brookelnn Cooper has completed her MA research paper (“Identifying the Anonymous Printer of Menno Simons’ The Blasphemy of Jan van Leiden : A Typographical Analysis”) and her degree at Brock U, and she has begun doctoral studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, where she’s working with Jeffrey Collins.
Henri Krop’s paper at the Faultline 1700 conference discussed shifting conceptions of religion in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. His paper’s short title was “From Singular to Plural.” Inspired in part by his paper, I have tried out a new digital humanities tool from the DBNL, the online database for Dutch literature. The graph above shows the frequency across time of the keywords godsdienst (religion) in green and godsdiensten (religions) in blue. For more on the DBNL ngram viewer, see this video. I haven’t been able to figure out how to embed an active version of the tool in this blog. The data points on the graph are clickable, if you use it as intended at dbnl.org.