Zwicker, Daniel (1612-1678)
Daniel Zwicker (1612-78), an oculist of Danzig, and for a time a member of the anti-Trinitarian Polish Church. In 1648 the Hutterite bishop Andreas Ehrenpreis had sent missioners to Danzig who contacted members of this Socinian church. Zwicker, a recent member of this church, was profoundly impressed by the Hutterite plea for the primitive Christian form of communal life. A lively correspondence with the Hutterites ensued, of which we have at least three Ehrenpreis letters to Zwicker (of 1649, 1650, and 1654), and one each to Zwicker's friends Hans Martin (1648) and Jobst von Stein (1649), all dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity and defending the principle of community of goods. Zwicker, a rather restless intellectual, decided to visit a Hutterite community. Thus in 1654 (not 1644, as Wilbur has it) he set out with three other men from Danzig to visit Ehrenpreis in Sobotište, Slovakia. After a stay of not more than ten days, studying the Rechenschaft by Riedemann and other doctrinal writings, he decided to join the brotherhood, in spite of his mental reservations concerning the doctrine of the Trinity. Strangely enough, Ehrenpreis, though well aware of these reservations, was glad to receive Zwicker into the brotherhood, and waived certain affirmations. He was at once made a minister and "missionary to Poland." When he left, Ehrenpreis gave him a handwritten chronicle of the Brethren (Codex "E" in Beck's description, today in Hamburg) that he might be better informed if asked to give account.
Upon his return to Danzig, Zwicker set to work immediately to promote some sort of fusion of the Polish Unitarians and the Slovakian Anabaptists, claiming the moral superiority of the Hutterites. But he was not very successful, for he was ably opposed by two members of the Polish church, Martin Ruarius and Ludwig von Wolzogen. Zwicker concealed the fact that he had accepted membership in the Hutterite brotherhood by affirming the Trinitarian doctrine. He gave the appearance that all he wanted was a loose union of the two groups where by the Danzig church would have to accept only the communal form of brotherhood living, an ideal once held by his Polish coreligionists. Ruarius convinced his church that Zwicker's proposals were not feasible. Eventually, in 1656, the Danzig Socinian church expelled Zwicker. From 1657 to his death in 1678 he lived in Amsterdam, where he was well received. In the Netherlands Zwicker traveled extensively. He was suspected of Socinianism; he criticized and censured several churches including the Mennonites for their spiritual decay, later even defending the views of Christian Entfelder that it was better not to join any church, and disputing particularly in Collegiant meetings. Some Collegiant Mennonites like Jacob Jansen Voogd opposed Zwicker's views, but others were influenced by Zwicker to leave the church. Zwicker published a number of books, among which were De noch Staende en Triompherende Sichtbare kerkcke Christi (Amsterdam, 1660), opposing Galenus Abrahamsz, and his most radical work, Irenicon Irenicorum (n.p., 1678), translated from Latin into Dutch by his follower Adriaan Swartepaert, under the title Vredeschrift der Vredeschrijten (1678). Zwicker died in 1678 at Amsterdam. It is not known how the Hutterite chronicle in his possession got to the Hamburg City Library.
Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967: 486-92.
Friedmann, Robert. "The Encounter of Anabaptists and Mennonites with Anti-Trinitarianism." Mennonite Quarterly Review (1948): 161-62.
Hylkema, C. B. Reformateurs. 2 vols. Haarlem, 1900, 1902: passim.
Meihuizen, H. W. Galenus Abrahamsz. Haarlem, 1954: 81.
Meinsma, K. O. Spinoza en zijn Kring. The Hague, 1896: 196-99.
Rubier, W. J. Het Socinianisme in Nederland. Leiden, 1912: 218-21.
Sepp, Chr. Polemische en Irenische Theologie. Leiden, 1882: 131, 134.
Wilbur, E. M. A History of Unitarianism; Socinianism and Its Antecedents. Cambridge, Mass., 1946: 573-75, also 510 note.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1051. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Friedmann, Robert and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Zwicker, Daniel (1612-1678)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 18 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Z957.html.
APA style: Friedmann, Robert and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1959). Zwicker, Daniel (1612-1678). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/Z957.html.