Outerman, Jacques (ca. 1547-ca. 1639)

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Jacques Outerman born ca. 1547, probably in Flanders, Belgium, died at an advanced age before 1639 at Haarlem, Holland. As an elder he played an important role among the Mennonites of the Netherlands. He was also called Jacob Keest, Jacob (van) Reinegom (also Reninge, or Reyninghen). In 1586—he was then a deacon at Franeker in Friesland—he opposed Thomas Bijntgens (Bintgens), the elder of the Flemish congregation in Franeker. The consequence was a division of the congregation into two factions known as the Thomas Bijntgensvolk or Huiskoopers (Housebuyers) and the Jacob Keestvolk or Contra-Huiskoopers. This schism was not induced solely by the purchase of a house, but had its roots in the practice of the ban, the Huiskoopers being the stricter, the Jacob Keestvolk the more lenient group. The division was not confined to the Franeker congregation. Soon there were found everywhere Old Flemish (followers of Bijntgens) and Young (or Gentle) Flemish, usually called simply Flemish, the party of Outerman being the more numerous.

Later Outerman was elder of the large Haarlem Flemish congregation "in den Block." About 1616 he was deposed and banned by Jan Luies, the elder of strict Groningen Mennonites; however his congregation remained loyal to him.

Outerman took an active part in compiling the new martyr book, in which the Waterlanders and Frisians also co-operated, which was to replace the smaller Offer des Heeren. The Groote Offerboek appeared in 1615 with a foreword by Hans de Ries (see Historie der Martelaren). Outerman for some reason, now unknown, had already finished his contribution to the book.

Outerman must have had a wide influence; the Reformed preachers wrote in warning that the populace looked up to him as to a bishop, shepherd, and master and regarded him as an apostle. Outerman was an unusually prolific writer, writing until a very advanced age. His works are mostly of a polemic character, dealing with the schisms among the Dutch Mennonites. The most important are Nootwendige Verantwoordinghe . . . tot wederlegghen van de Euangelische mijdinge (anonymous, n.p., 1595), Onder verbeteringhe. Verclaringhe met bewijs wt den droevighen handel van Vriesen ende Vlaminghen . . . (n.p., 1609), and Copye eens Briefs, soo Jaques Outerman eertijds geschreven heeft . . . tot onderrichtinge ven de droevighe Sake, so eertijdts tusschen die men nu Vriesen ende Vlamingen noemt, ghevallen is (Haarlem, 1634).

In 1608-1609 Outerman was attacked by Johannes Zeeuw and Idzardus Nicolai, Reformed preachers, and in 1626 by a Reformed preacher of Haarlem, Johannes Acronius, accusing him of Socinianism, which was heretical on the doctrine of the Trinity, and which the Reformed Church was alertly guarding against at that time. Outerman had to account for his position before the States of Holland. He defended himself and wrote a confession of faith that was signed by nineteen Flemish preachers and presented to the court of Holland on 8 October 1626. This confession deals with the "Eenigen Godt, Vader, Soon en Heyligen Geest" and the incarnation of the Son of God. It was examined and declared Biblical. Outerman had no further difficulties, and the building of the meetinghouse, which the government had halted, could now proceed. But it is a question whether Outerman in his dogmatic rationalism and in his observations on the Trinity did not deviate too far from the simple words of the Bible and thereby to some extent approach Socinianism.

Outerman's confession was apparently highly regarded by some of the Mennonites. It was included in the book that contains the general confessions (De algemeene Belijdenissen . . . , Amsterdam, 1665). And in 1735, at the meeting called for the founding of a seminary, the more conservative Zonists asked (though in vain) whether Outerman's confession should not be taken as the basis for the seminary.

Little is known about the last years of Outerman's life. In 1637 he was still living, for in this year he published Een claer Bewijs uyt Godts Woordt, dat Godt . . . die menschen door Christum . . . voorsien ende verkoren heeft tot den eeuwigen Leven. Jelis Outerman, who died as a martyr in 1561 at Bruges, Belgium, may have been a relative of Jacques Outerman.


Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica, 10 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: v. VII, 70 f.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1870): 59, 63; (1876): 39; (1893): 80; (1899): 103; (1904): 117, 120; (1906): 145, 147.

Haeghen, Ferdinand van der., Thomas Arnold and R. Vanden Berghe. Bibliographie des Martyrologes Protestants Néerlandais. II. Receuils. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1890: v. II, 503.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 330.

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: v. I, Nos. 492, 580, 582, 586, 636; v. II, 2, No. 66.

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

Kühler, Wilhelmus Johannes. Het Socinianisme in Nederland. Leiden, 1912: 90-105.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

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Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Outerman, Jacques (ca. 1547-ca. 1639)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 7 Apr 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Outerman,_Jacques_(ca._1547-ca._1639)&oldid=144538.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Outerman, Jacques (ca. 1547-ca. 1639). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 April 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Outerman,_Jacques_(ca._1547-ca._1639)&oldid=144538.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 98-99. All rights reserved.

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