Nuremberg: Jobst Gutknecht, 1528.
Quarto: 19.5 x 14.5 cm.  p. Collation: A-B4, C6
ONE OF THREE VARIANTS OF THE FIRST EDITION.
Modern wrappers. Light dust-soiling along fore-edge, small chip at upper corner of title, inner margin of title discreetly mended. Else fine. With a historiated woodcut title border. Date from end of text: “Tausent Fünff hundert vnd im Achtvndzweyntzigiste Jare.” This work is extremely rare. OCLC/VD16/KVK locate only a handful of copies worldwide. The other two issues are equally rare. I have located only one copy (of any issue) in North America (Luther Seminary, MN).
A rare anti-Anabaptist text by the Lutheran divine Andreas Althamer, who took part in the Bern disputation of 1528, where he defended Luther’s doctrine of the Last Supper.
Althamer addresses specific Anabaptist doctrines and practices. The first is that of “believer’s baptism”, i.e., the belief that the only legitimate basis for receiving baptism and entering the baptismal covenant is the experience of regeneration, which gave the believer power to make a valid confession of faith (Tied to this is the concomitant rejection of infant baptism). The second is the Anabaptist concept of the “community of goods”, which in practice focused on stewardship (as opposed to ownership) and brotherly sharing in Anabaptist communities, but which was often attacked as having a destabilizing effect among the poorer classes, especially in the wake of the Peasants’ War (1524-5).
“The book was printed, according to the foreword, upon the wish and direction of Margrave George of Brandenburg-Ansbach, who in his own name and that of his nephew, Margrave Albrecht, had it distributed to all the pastors and preachers in his domain, "for faithful use, in order that their parishioners be not misled by Anabaptist teaching."
“In this writing Althamer tried to prove the doctrine of infant baptism from the Old Testament. As circumcision was a sign of the divine covenant and grace, so also baptism was in the New Covenant. As the former was performed on children at eight days, so must baptism also be performed. Also from the command to baptize it followed that little children must be baptized; they were included in the term "all nations," etc. The conclusion of the booklet dealt directly with the community of goods of the Anabaptists, which was rejected as a devilish doctrine that stirred up rebellion.”(GAMEO, Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia).
Margrave George had reason to be concerned about the disruptive possibilities of the concept of the “community of goods.” Anabaptists had established themselves in the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Ansbach in 1527, with the arrival of Hans Hut, the German Anabaptist bookbinder (martyred at Augsburg, 1527). Hut’s prediction, that secular government would be destroyed within three- and-a-half years of the Peasants’ War, was openly discussed. Accordingly, the authorities examined and tried those they captured with a range of crimes, from theological error, to blasphemy, to outright sedition.
VD 16, ZV 2333, under the Margrave’s name (for the other issues, ZV 2334 and B 6972); Hillerbrand, Anabaptist Bibliography (1520-1630), 4279