Offer des Heeren, Het
Het Offer des Heeren is a compilation of reports on the martyrs, which, as far as known, appeared in 1562. The full title reads as follows: Dit Boec wort genoemt: Het Offer des Heeren, om het inhout van sommighe opgheofferde kinderen Godts: De welcke voortgebracht hebben wt den goeden schat haers herten, Belijdingen, Sendtbrieven, ende Testamenten, de welcke sy metten monde beleden ende metten bloede bezegelt hebben, Tot troost ende versterckinghe der Slachschaepkens Christi, die totter doot geschict zijn, Tot lot, prijs ende eere des geens diet al in allen vermach, wiens macht duert van eewicheyt tot eewicheyt, Amen. This book contains descriptions of the sufferings of Dutch Anabaptists who were imprisoned, their letters to their next of kin and brethren, reports of eyewitnesses, and also hymns which were in part written by them in prison and in part written by others to describe their death. These contemporary reports give the book special value. They offer important source material for the history of the persecution of the Mennonites in the Netherlands in 1527-92. The letters of their fellow believers offer the prisoners courage and comfort in their suffering, while the letters from the prisoners breathe a deep, earnest spirit, with the admonition to faithful endurance in a Christian walk amid all persecution. In all editions the Offer des Heeren is followed by a hymnal entitled Een Lietboecxken, tracterende van den Offer des Heeren, int welke oude ende nieuwe Liedekens, wt verscheyden Copien vergadert zijn, om by het Oflerboeck ghevoecht te worden. . . . Eleven songs from this Lietboecxken, translated into German, are found in the Ausbund.
The book does not, however, report all the Dutch Mennonite martyrs, but only some of those who lived in the province of Holland, in Flanders, in Antwerp, and in Friesland. The first edition of the Offer contains accounts on 21 Dutch Anabaptist martyrs, while the last edition of 1599 includes 33 martyrs. Besides this the Lietboecxken mentions in the first edition 135 martyrs, the last edition 179. Of the German martyrs, the cross-examination of Michael Sattler, who was burned at the stake in Rottenburg on the Neckar in 1527, is presented in excerpts, as was ascertained by G. Kawerau, who published the omitted text in the Göttingische Gelehrten-Anzeigen (1905, 493-96), having found in the library at Wolfenbüttel a copy not accessible to Cramer of Ain newes wunderbarlichs geschicht von Michel Sattler, by an anonymous eyewitness.
The Offer des Heeren was widely read by the Mennonites of the time and went through eleven editions: 1562 (the Lietboecxken of this edition being signed 1563), n.p.; 1566, n.p.; 1567, 1570, n.p.; two editions of 1578, both n.p.; 1580, n.p.; 1590, n.p.; 1592, n.p.; 1595, published by Willem Jansz Buys at Amsterdam; and 1599, published by Peter Sebastiaenszoon at Harlingen. There may have been other editions. Each edition amplifies the preceding one by adding information on the executions occurring in the meantime, especially under Alba's reign of terror.
In the literature on church history this martyrbook, in spite of its powerful examples of strong faith and courage, is scarcely mentioned. The letters with their expression of devotion to the Lord are reminiscent of the days of the early persecution of Christians under heathen governments. The Dutch authorities sought to suppress the distribution of this great source book, for the publication of such testimonies, in sharp contradiction to the suspicions of their enemies and the content of the numerous man-dates, brought a stream of new converts to the Mennonites.
In spite of many reprints, also in the period of tolerance in Holland, only a few copies have been preserved. In 1955 the Amsterdam Mennonite Library had a copy of the editions of 1562, 1567, 1570, 1578a, 1580, 1590, 1592, 1595, 1599. In the library of the University of Ghent were found a copy each of the 1566 and the 1578b editions; a copy of the 1578a edition was found in the Royal Library in The Hague and the Utrecht University Library; the 1578b edition was also found in the Library of the University of Utrecht. The Goshen College Library had the editions of 1570, 1578, 1580, and 1595. For a long time this great book had disappeared entirely, and only in 1875 was a copy of the first edition found. In view of its significance in the evaluation of the Anabaptist movement in the 16th century Samuel Cramer published a new edition as the second volume of the Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica (The Hague, 1910, XII and 683 pages), based on the edition of 1570, and in his introduction called attention to the most important differences between the various editions and added information gleaned from old court records.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1870): 54-58; (1906):53-92.
Vander Haeghen, F., Th. Arnold, and R. Vanden Berghe. Bibliographie des Martyrologes Protestants Néerlandais II. The Hague, 1890: 441-99.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon III: 293 f.
Het Offer des Heeren, electronic full text in Dutch (Cramer, S., and F. Pijper. Bibliotheca reformatoria neerlandica. Geschriften uit den tijd der hervorming in de Nederlanden. 10 vols. 's-Gravenhage: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: II.)
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 22. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Hege, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Offer des Heeren, Het." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1955. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O485.html.
APA style: Hege, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1955). Offer des Heeren, Het. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O485.html.