Otter, Jakob (ca. 1485-1547)
Jakob Otter (c1485-1547), first a Carthusian monk, later a Protestant churchman of the 16th century, a native of Alsace; educated at the universities of Heidelberg and Freiburg, he became a Lutheran pastor in the Austrian village of Kenzingen in 1522. Expelled in 1524, he fled to Strasbourg, and with the patronage of Hans Landschad, Luther's friend, became pastor in Neckarsteinach. Expelled from there in 1529, he served as pastor in Aarau (Switzerland) and Esslingen on the recommendation of Blaurer in 1532. Otter also had a letter of recommendation from Bucer. He was inclined to self-importance, probably to compensate for shortness of stature, and lacked the art of leadership. He injured himself and the Esslingen Church by a lack of respect for Blaurer. For years the Anabaptists of Esslingen could point their fingers at the bitter quarrels between Otter and his colleague Fuchs.
The acclaim given Otter in many biographies of Reformation characters is not deserved. The most recent Kirchengeschichte von Stadt und Bezirk Esslingen by Otto Schuster (Stuttgart, 1946) is in this respect pleasantly objective, but contains several errors in the section on Otter. The brief, apt formulation given by Schuster (163) says that in Esslingen it was Blaurer's achievement to lay the groundwork, that of Otter to build the superstructure of the Protestant Church. The regulations formulated by Otter and his colleagues on the order of the services (1533) and church organization (1534), the school regulations (1534) and disciplinary regulations (1536), are now a part of church history and not to be discussed here. But in addition to Schuster's presentation the older one by Th. Keim (Reformationsblätter der Stadt Esslingen, 1860) can still be used. Otter's printed works can be found in part in the city library of Esslingen. Schuster's book (1946) shows no knowledge of the articles "Blaurer" by Christian Hege, and "Esslingen" by Christian Neff (Mennonitisches Lexikon I, 226 and 609). The guild of Reformation historiography will not permanently be able to close its mind to the fact that the Anabaptist congregation "furnished the best preliminary work for the introduction of the Reformation" (Neff, 609), and that the Anabaptists, won to the church by Blaurer's preaching and pastoral work in 1531-32 and the church discipline he introduced, were again repelled from the church by the return to laxity of discipline and the baneful quarrels between Otter and Fuchs carried on even in the pulpit; the church was therefore to blame for the loss of these Anabaptists. On the other hand it must be admitted that Otter, the self-important polemicist, kindly received Schwenckfeld and Franck, the two spiritualists from the outside who were spiritually akin to the Anabaptists, although he was certainly influenced against them by Bucer, as Brecht was in Ulm. Schwenckfeld went in and out of Otter's parsonage and was permitted to explain to Otter his objections to Luther's doctrine of communion. Blaurer, of course, supported this intercourse by writing warning letters. Otter died in the horror of the Interim in 1547, which destroyed so many churchmen. Still worth reading is his prayer booklet (1537), found in the Landesbibliothek at Stuttgart.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 94. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Teufel, Eberhard. "Otter, Jakob (ca. 1485-1547)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O886.html.
APA style: Teufel, Eberhard. (1959). Otter, Jakob (ca. 1485-1547). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/O886.html.