Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27, 2012

Martyrs’ Mirror and Its Continued Importance

Recently I became interested in Anabaptists of the 16th and 17th centuries, and I began to research various historical and religious events that might have involved them. During this research I saw a lot of references to Martyrs’ Mirror. I had a basic idea of what it concerned but wanted to relearn the basic facts of this most-feted piece of history.

Martyrs’ Mirror is a very influential publication authored by Thieleman van Braght. It was first circulated in the 1660s due to the need for a book that would speak only of Anabaptist martyrs (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs rarely mentioned this particular denomination) and in the following centuries it became an Anabaptist standard. It was praised for being a much-needed memorial to those “Brethren” who had died for their faith. In the 1740s it became available in German. Many Mennonite and Amish families consider this book to be of utmost importance, and Protestants of all stripes will find it interesting.

Martyrs’ Mirror is available online at I found the “Index of Anabaptists Who Were Persecuted or Martyred 1525-1660” to be particularly interesting. I love the idea of illuminating names of martyrs and sufferers who have long been forgotten, thus I have included some random names to cherish and honor: Hendrick Aerts and his wife Janneken Cabiljaus . . . Uly Baumgartner . . . Henry Gutwol . . . Tanneken van der Leyen . . . Hans van Overdam (featured in my post of September 05th) . . . Jeronymus Schepens . . . Maritgen de Vette . . . and Maerten Zaeyweuer.

The online version of Martyrs’ Mirror is indispensible for those of Anabaptist heritage or for anyone studying Protestantism in the 16th and 17th centuries. One of my favorite sections was, “An Account of Those Who Suffered in the Sixteenth Century,” as this is my particular area of interest. Stories of primitive Christians and early “dissenters” that were injured and/or martyred for the faith throughout the centuries are also included. I recommend Martyrs’ Mirror simply for its invaluable place in early Protestant culture and for the enduring importance it still enjoys today.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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