Obbes, Nittert (ca. 1581-ca. 1636)

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Nittert Obbes(z) (ca. 1581-ca. 1636), a Mennonite preacher, a native of Pilsum, East Friesland, Germany, came to Amsterdam as a tailor in 1598. In 1614 he was called to preach for the Waterlander congregation in the Groote Spikier, as a colleague of Reynier Wybrands, Cornelis Claesz Anslo, and Pieter Andriesz Hesseling. The choice was unfortunate. Nittert came under the influence of Socinianism and brought it to the pulpit, though in concealed form. Called to account by the fellow ministers and by Hans de Ries, the Waterlander elder, Nittert promised to refrain from preaching this doctrine. Nittert then drew up in writing a number of points in which he accused de Ries as well as the other Amsterdam preachers of fanaticism; they taught two different Words of God, i.e., besides the written Word also an unwritten Word. De Ries denied the charge. The fact is that whereas Nittert held determinedly that the written Word is a dead letter, being therein a disciple of Socinus, de Ries and his following made a distinction but not a separation, between the Scripture and Jesus Christ, the inner Word. The charge that de Ries suppressed the written Word in favor of the inner Word he vigorously denied.

It was Jan Theunisz, a friend and follower of Nittert Obbes, who in 1625 published without Nittert's knowledge a book written by Nittert, and gave it the insulting title Raegh-besem, seer bequaem om sommige Mennonijtsche schuren te reynigen van de onnutte spinnewebbens, sotte grollen en ydelheden eeniger Gheest-drijveren, Swinck-veldianen ende des selfs voorstanderen, die op hun bysondere drijvingen ende inspraken steunen tot verminderingh van 't beschreven woordt Godts.

De Ries defended himself in a pamphlet Ontdekkinge der dwalingen (1627); the Amsterdam preachers wrote their Apologia in 1626. Jan Theunisz tried to defend his friend. The poet Joost van den Vondel, at that time a member of the Waterlander congregation, intervened in Nittert's favor and wrote his malicious Antidotum. He apparently did not grasp the core of the quarrel and completely misunderstood the Amsterdam preachers. A large number of pamphlets dealt with the quarrel; e.g., Dialogus ofte T'samen-sprekinge tusschen een Waerheydt-soeckende Neutralist ghenaemt Vrederick ende een Waterlandsch Broeder (Amsterdam, 1626). Nittert himself wrote Eenighe Vragen met een brief aen Hans de Rys and Oprechtigheyd van Reynier Wybrandsz, Pieter Andriesz en Cornelis Claesz . . . , both of 1626.

When Nittert found followers in other places, especially in Rotterdam (Eduard Nabels), North Holland (Jan Willemsz of De Rijp), and even in Franeker, an attempt was made to mediate the difficulty. Rippert Eenkes and other neutral preachers drew up a confession of faith on 5 September 1626, which agreed with de Ries and repudiated Socinianism. Nittert yielded his views and signed the document on 9 September 1626. He was suspended from preaching and not reinstated. His following continued the dispute for a time. Jan Theunisz submitted in 1634.


Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1865): 51, 57-72.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III: 282.

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: I, No. 548; II, Nos. 1180, 1204-31, 1366.

Kühler, Wilhelmus Johannes. Geschiedenis van de Doopsgezinden in Nederland II. 1600-1735 Eerste Helft. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink & Zoon n.v., 1940: 143-75.

Wijnman, H. F. "Jan Theunisz."Jaarboek Amstelodamum XXV (1928), particularly pp. 78-100.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

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Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Obbes, Nittert (ca. 1581-ca. 1636)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 15 Sep 2019. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Obbes,_Nittert_(ca._1581-ca._1636)&oldid=146654.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Obbes, Nittert (ca. 1581-ca. 1636). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 15 September 2019, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Obbes,_Nittert_(ca._1581-ca._1636)&oldid=146654.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 11. All rights reserved.

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