Baptist History Homepage

Leonard Verduin on "Historical Bias"

     "When Josef Beck set himself to edit a volume of original source materials, Die Geschichts-Bucher der Wiedertaufer in Osterreich-Ungarn (an in-group account of the rise of the Anabaptists of Austria-Hungary) he deftly exscinded "a piece of Church History extending from the year 344 to 1519 for the reason that 'it has nothing at all, or very little, to do with the matter in hand.'" Surely this is arbitrary procedure. The people who wrote this early account of their own history were of the conviction that one must pay considerable attention to the events that lie between 344 and 1519 if one is to understand the origin and history of the people described. Surely it is to beg the question to wave this testimony to one side, just because it does not fit into a preconceived historical construction!"

[From Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and their Stepchildren, Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishng Company, 1964, p. 14, fn a. The title is supplied. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

      Stephen duBarry of Olmstead Baptist Church [KY] adds this:

      I tracked down the German work Verduin cites as omitting a piece of church history from the year 344 to 1519. The footnote Verduin refers to is here on Google Books:

      Here is the text of the footnote after correcting Google's OCR:

Die nachstfolgenden Blatter unserer Chroniken schildern uns in Kurze die Apostelgeschichte und die Verfolgungen welche die ersten Christen getroffen haben. Daran reiht sich ein Stuck Kirchengeschichte von Anno 344 (Arius) bis 1519, das wir ubergehen zu durfen glauben, weil wir es hier grosstentheils mit einem Auszuge aus Sebastian Frank's gedruckter 'Chronika' zu thun hatten und den Umfang unserer Aufzeichnungen ungebuhrlich mit einer langeren Reihe von Daten erweitern mussten, die mit der eigentlichen Geschichte der Wiedertaufer in gar keinem oder einem sehr lockeren Verbande stehen.

Google's machine translation is:
The next pages describe our chronicles are taken by the first Christians in the Acts, and soon the persecutions. It joins a piece of church history from Anno 344 (Arius) to 1519, which we believe to be allowed to go because we have it here in great part to do with an extract from Sebastian Frank's printed 'Chronicles' and the scope of our records unduly prolonged by a series data would extend related to the actual history of the Anabaptists in no or a very loose associations.

The mention of Sebastian Franck led me to a GAMEO article which states:

Joseph Beck, the editor of the Geschichts-Bucher der Wiedertaufer in Oesterreich, states very significantly that the entire historical introduction of the Hutterite chronicle is nothing but an elaborate excerpt from the Chronica by Franck. (Beck, p. 9, footnote, which tells us that this introduction deals with the story of the early church, the persecutions, and the church development from Arius up to 1519.)

Franck's whole book is available here in German:

Another interesting quote from the GAMEO article:
"Franck had discovered, perhaps for the first time in history, a stream of nonconformist and non-ecclesiastical Christianity through the ages, something which in more recent times has been called "old-evangelical brotherhoods," and for which his age had but the derogatory term ketzer (heretic). He now set out to ennoble this word and to prove that these heretics were actually the better Christians, nearer to truth, than those of the official churches."

Did Franck really publish the first detailed history of dissenting sects from the earliest times until the beginning of the Reformation? If so, he beat John Foxe by 32 years.


Baptist History Homepage