A Reading Guide for the Martyrs Mirror

IMG_1956

“Dear brothers and sisters, awake, and make straight paths for your feet, that you may always be prepared for the Gospel of peace, which calls us only to peace, for beautiful are the feet of them that fear the Lord. Never separate from the church of the Lord; for it is the body of Christ, and he is the Saviour of his body.” Hans Symons, 1567 (p. 711)

“My child, do not regard the great number, nor walk in their ways. Remove thy foot far from their paths, for they go to hell (Isaiah 5:14)…But where you hear of a poor, cast-off little flock (Luke 12:32), which is despised and rejected by the world, join them; for where you hear of the cross, there is Christ; from there do not depart.” Anna Jansz, 1539 (p. 454)

“Sell your clothes, and buy Testaments; attend to the words of God: for therein you will find life.” Christoffel Fierens, 1572 (p. 961)

The Martyrs Mirror is a challenging book to read, more like a rambling castle or a complex labyrinth than a well-organized house or an open highway.  When my two teenagers were baptized recently, I gave them each a copy of the Martyrs Mirror and also a reading guide to get started on the journey of exploration.  This reading guide reflects my own interests and preoccupations but for those looking to find their way around in the book, this guide might be helpful.  The Martyrs Mirror began as a little book entitled The Sacrifice of the Lord and grew into the big book that it is today. A good way to begin exploration is to read the little book within the big book, so the guide begins with a list of narratives and letters found in The Sacrifice of the Lord.  Following this are some additional lists of inspirational and provocative literature in the Martyrs Mirror.

The Sacrifice of the Lord 1562 (the original “Martyrs Mirror”)*

  1.  Stephen ……………………………………………………….. 70-71
  2. Michael Sattler, 1527…………………………………………. 416-18
  3. Anna Janz of Rotterdam, 1539………………………………… 453-54
  4. Jan Claes and Lucas, 1544…………………………………….. 468-71
  5. Elizabeth Dirks of Leeuwarden, 1549………………………………… 481-83
  6. Hans van Overdam, 1550……………………………………… 486-93
  7. Hans Keescooper, 1550……………………………………….. 493-94
  8. Jerome Segers and Lijsken Dirks, 1551…..…………………… 504-21
  9. Peter Bruynen, 1551…………………………………………… 523-24
  10. Jan, the old clothes buyer, 1551……………………………… 524-25
  11. Adrian Corneliss, 1552………………………………………. 527-35
  12. Pieter van Wervijck, 1552……………………………………… 536-36
  13. Joos Kindt, 1552……………………………………………… 540-46
  14. Claes de Praet, 1556…………………………………………. 554-60
  15. Joriaen Simons, 1557………………………………………… 564-67
  16. Jacques d’Auchy, 1559…………………………………………. 591-610
  17. Claesken Gaeledochtor, 1559……..…………………………. 611-15
  18. Adriaen Pan, 1559……………………………………………… 619
  19. Hans de Vette, 1559………………………………………….. 620-22
  20. Hans Vermeersch, 1559………………………………………… 631-33
  21. Lenaert Plovier, 1559………………………………………….. 642-43
  22. Jelis Bernaerts, 1559……………………………………………. 624-30

 Interesting Stories

  • Leonhard Keyser, whose body and flower would not burn…….. 420-21
  • Maria van Beckum and her sister in law Ursula………………. 467-68, 500
  • Elizabeth, Hadewijk, and the drunken drummer………………. 546-47
  • Jan Jans and the basket escape through a window……………. 483
  • Fije and Eelken, two men who loved each other……………… 484-85
  • Simon the Shopkeeper refuses to kneel……………………….. 540
  • Hans Brael survives his jailors…………………………………. 560-63
  • Andries Langedul and the escape of the midwives…………….. 633-34
  • Pieter Pieters Beckjen and worship in a boat…………………. 738-40
  • Dirk Willems rescues his enemy from the icy pond…………. 741
  • Paul Glock refuses to acknowledge Christian magistracy…… 1024
  • Melchoir Platser gives a sermon before his execution..……… 1059
  • Menno Simons escapes his enemies…………………………. 1096-97
  • Hans Landis forgives his executioner in advance…………… 1103-05

Beautiful testimonies and letters

  • Felix Manz against coercion and for love alone……….…..………415
  • Algerius of Padua “infinite sweetness in the bowels of a lion”……570-72
  • Soetken van den Houte to her children: “seek for the only joy”….646-50
  • Jan Thieleman tells the Heilsgeschichte (salvation history)……….731-34
  • Hendrick Verstralen to Janneken: “you are buried in my heart”.…877-78
  • Maerten van der Straten to Belikan: “more patience than I”………954-55
  • Mayeken Wens to Mattheus: “parting is the hardest”……………..981
  • Hans van Munstdorp to his daughter: “take up a book”……………985
  • Raphael van den Velde to his son: “love conquers all things..……1034-35
  • Louwerens Janss Noodtdruft letters written on spoons……………1055-56
  • Joost de Tollenaer to his daughter: be “a daughter of Sarah”……..1076-80
  • Maeyken Wouters on martyrdom and romance…….……….…….1093

Eloquent prayers

  • Invocation by the editor Thieleman J. van Braght…………………5
  • Hans Koch and Leonhard Meister prayer for protection…………..414
  • Anna of Freiburg prayer: “keep me in thy truth”………………….435
  • Walter of Stoelwijk prayer for guidance and preservation…………464
  • Maeyken van Deventer prayer for her children……………………979
  • Prayer for secular power……………………………………………1135

Songs of the martyrs

  • Leonard Schoener hymn from the Ausbund (#31)…….…………..425
  • Hans Schlaffer hymn from the Ausbund (#32)……………………426
  • George Blaurock hymns from the Ausbund (#5 )……………431-32
  • The seven brothers hymn from the Ausbund (#61)…..……………434
  • Hymn by Clement Dirks, Mary Joris, and Joriaen Simons………..563-64
  • Song about Anneken Hendricks…………………………………..872-73
  • Jan Wouters & Adriaenken Jans hymn……………………………900
  • Hans Haslibacher hymn from the Ausbund (#140)…….…..……..1128-29

Provocative disputations

  •  
  • Weynken Claes offers wit and sarcasm about oil and wood…..….422-23
  • Lauwerens van der Leyen debates the incarnation………………..636-39
  • Jacob de Roore responds to harsh and vulgar criticism……………773-85
  • Herman Vleckwijk argues Trinitarian dogma…………………….785-98

Important confessions of faith

  • Apostle’s creed…………………………………………………….27
  • Thomas von Imbroich confession on baptism (Swiss), 1558…….367-71
  • Hendrick Terwoort and Jan Pieterss confession, 1575…………..1017
  • Twisck-Pietersz confession (Frisian), 1617………………..……..373-410
  • Olive Branch confession (Flemish-Frisian), 1627……..………….27-33
  • Jan Cents confession (Flemish), 1630……………………………33-38
  • Dordrecht confession (Flemish, Amish), 1632……………………38-44

Witness of apostles, martyrs, and church fathers (pp. 63-200)

  • The crucifixion of Jesus Christ……………………………………67
  • The life of Paul the Apostle………………………………………..81-85
  • Tertullian critiques hasty baptism…………………………………119
  • Perpetua and Felicitas from Africa executed………………………127
  • Origen opposes religious coercion………………………………..122
  • The Nicene Council………………………………………………..155-56
  • Ambrose against violence…………………………………………159-60
  • John Chrysostom on baptism and war….…………………………165-66
  • Augustine and his friend Euvodius who abandoned warfare……..170

Witness of dissenters and reformers in the church

  • Greek comedy and tragedy versus theater of the martyrs…………6, 353
  • The teachings of the Donatists…………………………………….154-55
  • Peter Waldo and the Waldensians…………………………………275-90
  • The crusade against the Albigenses………..……………………..304-08
  • John Huss and John Wycliffe……………………………………..336-37
  • Footnote on the Münster Anabaptist catastrophe…………………17
  • The struggles of the Hutterites in Austria………..……………….450-53
  • Anabaptists in England persecuted by Queen Elizabeth I……….1008-12
  • The renewed persecution of Swiss Anabaptists………………….1108-24
  • Jegly Schlabach and other Swiss Brethren elders imprisoned……1124-25

*reading list from The Sacrifice of the Lord found in James Lowry, The Martyrs Mirror Made Plain. Aylmer, Ont.: Pathway, 1997.

Prepared for Anna Lynn Biesecker-Mast and Jacob Daniel Biesecker-Mast by their father Gerald J. Mast on the occasion of their baptism at First Mennonite Church, Bluffton, April 16, 2017.

Advertisements

One thought on “A Reading Guide for the Martyrs Mirror

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s