Anastasius Veluanus, Johannes (d. after 1567)

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Johannes Anastasius Veluanus (Dutch name: Jan Gerrits Versteghe), an ecclesiastical superintendent at Bacharach, Germany, was a Dutch reformer. Originally, he had been a priest in the Roman Catholic Church at Garderen in the Dutch province of Gelderland. In 1544 he became an evangelical preacher, and later joined the movement of the Nationaal-Gereformeerden (who were opposed to the Calvinist Reformed on the doctrine of predestination and other matters), in which he became a leading figure. He held to a Biblical Humanism after the manner of Zwingli and called himself Zwinglian. Of special importance is the book he published in 1554 (the preface is dated at Strasbourg where he resided at this time), Der Leken Wechwyser (The Layman's Guide), which was widely read and turned countless persons to the Reformation, especially among the more educated in the Netherlands.

In Der Leken Wechwyser there is frequent reference to the Wederdopers, by which Anastasius means the Anabaptists. He is well informed about them. He writes, for example, concerning the Davidians (the followers of David Joris), who say that one may renounce the truth without committing sin (Der Leken W. in Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica IV, 344) and he knows about the party disputes among the Mennonites (ibid., 314, 333). Although decidedly rejecting their principles he is an exception among contemporary anti-Anabaptist writers in that he correctly distinguishes between the Münsterites and the peaceful Anabaptists, to whom he refers respectively as enthoesiasten (fanatics) and eenfeldighen (meaning both the innocent ones and the simple ones). These "simple" ones have a "conduct that is irreproachable, and in their lack of wisdom are still peacefully minded," namely, the "best Mennonisten" (ibid., 203). Elsewhere he writes that it is to be greatly deplored that the blind Anabaptists err so grossly, but that many among them live so irreproachably and die so magnificently for things which they think are godly, that it is highly commendable (ibid., 338). With moderation he opposes the doctrine of the incarnation held by Menno Simons and his group (ibid., 138-42); he defends infant baptism with nine arguments (ibid., 193-203), and upholds fulfilling the duty of the magistracy and military service (ibid., 348 ff., 351 ff.). His judgment is extremely moderate and departs widely from the unkind criticism of the later Calvinistic opponents such as Guido de Brès and others. He firmly opposes the execution of Anabaptists (ibid., 343, 238), and his plea for tolerance regarding them is superb: "The sword of the emperor is to punish those who . . . intentionally perpetrate gross sins against the Ten Commandments. But those who in good faith, unknowingly are deceived . . . these one should not in any fashion put to death. The poor blind Anabaptists are treated very unjustly in Brabant, Holland, and in the district of Utrecht, which no one can deny. If they retain their opinions, then they are burned at the stake; if they fall back again into Catholicism, then they still must die. How shall we answer before the judgment seat of Christ in that we do not live so irreproachably and die as steadfastly for the true doctrine as some of the Anabaptists do for their errors?" "The tyrants have a bitterness beyond all measure against the poor Anabaptists" (ibid., 337). This is a tone seldom found in an opponent who differed fundamentally with the principles of the Mennonites.


Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1916): 111, 117-130.

Moll, Willem. "Joh. Veluanus." Kerkhistorisch archief 1 (1857) 1-134.

Pijper, F. "Introduction." Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica, 10 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: v. IV, 81-121, and reprint of Der Leken Wechwyser and other writings, 122-490.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1955

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Anastasius Veluanus, Johannes (d. after 1567)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1955. Web. 7 Jul 2020.,_Johannes_(d._after_1567)&oldid=120042.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1955). Anastasius Veluanus, Johannes (d. after 1567). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 July 2020, from,_Johannes_(d._after_1567)&oldid=120042.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 118-119. All rights reserved.

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