Arnold, Eberhard (1883-1935)
Eberhard Arnold was born in Königsberg, Germany, 26 July 1883, the son of the Breslau church history professor, C. F. Arnold, and Elizabeth nee Voigt, and died in Darmstadt, Germany, 22 November 1935. He was the founder and Word Leader in the establishment of a new Hutterite Bruderhof in Germany, which continued to live in its daughter colonies in England, Paraguay and in North America. On his mother's side he was of German descent, on his father's American, his father having been born in Williamsfield, Ohio. Under the live impressions of a strongly revivalistic Christianity, Arnold felt keenly the injustices of the distinctions in class and society as he encountered them in his strictly religious parental home and in school, attending a Gymnasium in Breslau, where his father was professor of church history. Arnold studied theology, philosophy, and pedagogy at the universities of Breslau, Halle, and Erlangen. In 1908 he received his doctor's degree with a thesis on Urchristliches und Antichristliches im Werdegang Friedrich Nietzsches. After his marriage with Emmy von Hollander, by whom he had five children, Emmy, Eberhard, Johann, Hans, and Monika, he worked as a free-lance speaker and writer in Leipzig, Halle, and Berlin from 1909 to 1913 in the interests of genuine love of Christ and a renewal of life derived from the power of the Gospel. Then an illness compelled him to retire to southern Tyrol, where in the quietness of the mountains he was able to penetrate deeper into the significance and the demands of Jesus. The witness of these years was the book, Der Krieg, ein Aufruf zur Innerlichkeit, which was further developed as a first draft of the book, Innenland, ein Wegweiser in die Seele der Bibel. It was first Hermann Kutter and later the Christoph Blumhardts, father and son, who led him ever deeper into the central message of the Gospel, namely, the approaching kingdom of God. In his investigation into spiritual movements Arnold very early came across the Anabaptists and in 1916 published the article, "Zur Geschichte des christlichen Liedes; Die ältesten Lieder der Täufergemeinden." Meanwhile he worked as the secretary of the German Christian Student Union and as the literary head of the Furche-Verlag (publishing house) in Berlin (1915-1920). After World War I he came into lively contact with the Jugendbewegung (youth movement), whose genuine quest for the original impulses of life, and direct contact with nature and community he sought to direct to fulfillment in Christ (see his book, Die Religiosität der heutigen Jugend, Berlin, 1919).
Under the influence of this movement and the powerful impression of the Sermon on the Mount, the Arnold family and several others in 1920 initiated communal living in accordance with primitive Christianity and the original Anabaptists, in Sannerz, Hessen-Nassau. Here a brotherhood came into being to which Eberhard Arnold henceforth devoted his entire life in service both within and without the community. The periodical Das neue Werk and the books of the Neuwerk-Verlag served this new community. Besides the very intensive literary and publishing work and the care of numerous seeking guests and helpers, the community devoted itself to horticulture and agriculture and social and educational work with children, youth, and adults. The collaboration of this small group with the Neuwerkbewegung ended in 1922, when a division occurred between the Neuwerk, which had become increasingly ecclesiastical in its emphasis, and the circle in Sannerz, with its emphasis upon radical discipleship, requiring that all areas of life, without exception—the economic included—be placed under the unifying leadership of the spirit of Christ. Then Arnold began to publish in his own plant, known as the Gemeinschaftsverlag, and later Eberhard Arnold-Verlag, the Quellen christlicher Zeugnisse aus alien Jahrhunderten (Christian Testimonies Throughout the Centuries); the first volume of which, Die ersten Christen nach dem Tode der Apostel, was compiled and introduced by him. The periodical Die Wegwarte, which was published from 1926 to 1928, contains various articles from Arnold's pen, as do also Die Furche and other German magazines.
The Biblical radicalism of the original Anabaptists corresponded completely, in its faith and manner of living, to the experience at Sannerz. Therefore, when the brotherhood moved to the nearby Sparhof in 1926, also called the Rhönbruderhof, near Fulda, the extended activity of the community was called a "Bruderhof" after the example of the Hutterite communal households. Eberhard Arnold established contact with the Hutterian Brethren in North America in 1928, and he worked persistently for the union of the young circle with the centuries-old brotherhood movement. The republication of Ehrenpreis' Sendbrief, die brüderliche Gemeinschaft der Liebe betreffend in the Wegwarte and the Michel-Hasel Buch, the publication in German of Bertha Clark's study, The Hutterian Communities, and the drafting of the "Grundlagen und Ordnungen" (now in mss. in Primavera, Alto-Paraguay) are the literary evidence of this development.
During a trip to and through America in 1930-31, Arnold visited all the Bruderhofs in South Dakota, Manitoba, and Alberta. His adoption into the community of brethren known as the Hutterites and the commission entrusted to him are attested in the following document (in translation):
The Hutterian Brethren
To the Bruderhofs
Information to the Hutterite congregations.
(Signed) Elias Walter
With the active support of the North American Bruderhofs, the Rhönbruderhof was built up, after Arnold's return, as the mission station and gathering place of the zealous. A printing shop was installed to publish the material on the Anabaptist movement collected by Arnold in Europe and America. In cooperation with Professor Johann Loserth of Graz the printing of the Klein-Geschichtsbuch was undertaken (though only 64 pages were printed) with annotations in which Arnold incorporated the fruits of years of research. Various articles for periodicals, for the Mennonitisches Lexikon, etc., were published. An account of the Hutterian Brethren was also published in English, entitled The Hutterian Brothers (Ashton Keynes, 1940). Other articles by Arnold were published in English in the Plough, the English organ of the Hutterite group, and an English translation of Innenland, which was published in German in 1936, was completed. An intensive work in the inner strengthening of the community with deeply stirring guest addresses and public lectures went hand in hand with the external development of the Rhönbruderhof.
The rise of National Socialism in Germany in 1933 was accompanied by appreciable difficulty and finally a complete termination of the work in Germany in 1937. First the publication work of the Klein-Geschichtsbuch had to be stopped. Since the educational work of the colony was interfered with by the Gestapo, a new settlement, the Almbruderhof, was made in 1934 in the principality of Liechtenstein, a task to which Arnold had to devote the major portion of his time. In addition to many petitions to the authorities, in which Arnold stressed the peaceable character of the brotherhood and the comprehensiveness of its task for the kingdom of God, he completely rewrote Innenland to present the truth of the Bruderhof against the errors of the time. A journey undertaken in the spring of 1935 to Holland, England, and Scotland in the interests of the development of the Bruderhof brought him in closer contact with the Dutch Mennonites and the English Quakers. From the midst of all these tasks Eberhard Arnold was suddenly called away by death on 22 November 1935.
The fundamental recognition and characteristic of his life was the confident expectation of the coming of the kingdom of God, which would reveal itself in repentance and a radical change in beginning a new life of love and justice in brotherly community and a sincere responsibility for public life. Christ is the decisive new dawn of God in history; His Spirit unites the brotherhood, here and now, in the authorization of the mission in all the world. The practical life of the brotherhood already corresponds everywhere with the character of the coming kingdom wherever Christ is accepted in His entirety, in accordance with the prophetic and apostolic word. Community of goods, baptism by faith, memorial Lord's Supper as a unifying meal of the entire brotherhood, church discipline, church orders in the sense of organic diversity are the counterpart within the community to the mission, the radical testimony of peace and the readiness to suffer outside the community. In all these points the Artikelbücher, the Rechenschaft by Peter Riedemann, the epistles, Vorreden, doctrines, hymns, and orders of the brethren who are called the Hutterites were fundamental and directive.
The work of complete communal living, begun by Eberhard Arnold, was carried forward in the Cotswold and Oaksey Bruderhofs in England after his death and the expulsion of the community from Germany in 1937. Today it still remains on the same foundation in the Wheathill Bruderhof in England and the three Bruderhofs in Primavera, Paraguay.
Arnold 's scholarly work in Anabaptist history still awaits publication. His songs have become the living possessions of the Bruderhofs in Paraguay and England. The most important of Arnold's published works are: Urchristliches und Antichristliches im Werdegang Friedrich Nietzsches (Eilenberg, 1910); Innenland, ein Wegweiser in die Seele der Bibel und in den Kamp/ um die Wirklichkeit (Almbruderhof, Liechtenstein, 1936) ; Die ersten Christen nach dem Tode der Apostel (Sannerz and Berlin, 1926) ; an English translation of the introduction titled The Individual and World Need (Ashton Keynes, 1938); The Peace of God (Ashton Keynes, 1940) ; hymns in Sonnenlieder (Eberhard-Arnold Verlag, Sannerz and Leipzig, 1924) ; Sonnenlieder, Part II (Rhönbruderhof, 1933).
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 162-164. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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APA style: Arnold, Eberhard C. H. (1951). Arnold, Eberhard (1883-1935). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A7758.html.