Musculus, Wolfgang (1497-1563)

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Wolfgang Musculus (Meusslin) was a clergyman who in 1512 entered a Benedictine monastery at Lixheim, Alsace, left it in 1527 and became a Protestant. For a time he served as deacon at the minster in Strasbourg. In 1531 he was called to the church of the Holy Cross in Augsburg, Germany. Here he attacked the Anabaptists in speaking and writing, but was of a more lenient nature than his colleague Urban Rhegius, who had left Augsburg on 26 August 1530. The peak of the Anabaptist movement in the city was already past. The leaders of the brotherhood had been in prison for three and one-half years. Soon after his arrival Musculus and his colleague Bonifacius Wolfhart began his attempts to convert them. Jakob Daschser, who had been in prison since 28 August 1527, and had written 40 hymns there (Kamp, 27), recanted on 16 May 1531; Jakob Gross after over three years in prison did the same on 22 June. Other members of the Augsburg Anabaptist group were imprisoned in the meantime and released upon recantation. Some were expelled from the city, and threatened with beheading if they returned (Roth, 11, 407).

The discussions of the city preachers with the Anabaptist prisoners led Musculus to write a pamphlet on the oath in order to make it clear to the populace that swearing is not forbidden; many citizens were refusing to give the required oath before the court. In 1530, on the occasion of the meeting of the Reichstag, when the oath was required of all citizens, some of them preferred to be put out of the city (Roth, II, 408). The booklet was published on 28 July 1533, in Augsburg with the title, Ain frydsams vnnd Christlichs Gesprech ains Euangelischen auff ainer, vnd ains Widerteuffers, auff der andern seyten, so sy des Aydschwurs halben thund, and contains 34 pages (copy in Goshen College Mennonite Historical Library). It was written in the form of a dialogue, in which a Protestant named Friedenreich tries to persuade an Anabaptist named Adolf that swearing is not forbidden. It is the oldest polemic against the Anabaptists on the subject of the oath, though the Confession of Augsburg had three years previously taken a position in Article 16, which says, "Here the Anabaptists are damned" because they teach that to render "the required oath is not Christian." Martin Micronius in 1555 published a Dutch translation of Musculus' booklet with the title Een claere, cnde Scriftelicke onderrichtinghe van den Eedt, wat hy sy: ende hoe dat hy gebruijct ende misbruijct can werden Waer toeghedaen is een clein anhancksel, den seluen handel angaende, Door Marten Mikroen.

Musculus also refuted the doctrines of the Anabaptists in his commentaries on the Gospels (Roth, III, 247). After the Augsburg Interim in 1548 Musculus had to leave the city and fled to Bern, where he was employed as professor of theology.


Grimme, F. "Wolfgang Musculus." Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für Lothringische Geschichte und Altertumskunde V, 2 (1893): 1-20.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 192.

Kamp, August. Die Psalmendichtung des Jakob Dachser. Greifswald, 1931.

Roth, Friedrich. Augsburgs Reformationsgeschichte. München : T. Ackermann, 1901-1911.

Author(s) Christian Hege
Date Published 1957

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Hege, Christian. "Musculus, Wolfgang (1497-1563)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 24 Mar 2019.,_Wolfgang_(1497-1563)&oldid=144459.

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Hege, Christian. (1957). Musculus, Wolfgang (1497-1563). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 March 2019, from,_Wolfgang_(1497-1563)&oldid=144459.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 790-791; vol. 4, p. 1146. All rights reserved.

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