Menno's contemporaries

Melchior Hoffman (c. 1495-1543)

Melchior HoffmanBorn in Swabia in Southern Germany Melchior Hoffman (also spelled as 'Hofmann' or 'Hoffmann') was one of the founders of Anabaptism in the Netherlands. A furrier by trade, he emerged as a self-taught Lutheran evangelist. He experienced opposition wherever he preached and traveled from country to country.

In Strasbourg he was first acquainted with the Anabaptists and was baptized there in 1530. During the same year Hoffman traveled from Strasbourg to Emden (Northern Germany) with a message of apocalyptic spirituality. Here he found ready response, baptized many people and sent lay preachers into the Netherlands.

Hoffman believed that Strasbourg would be the spiritual Jerusalem and that he himself was Elijah, chosen to proclaim this event. Upon returning to Strasbourg in 1533 he was imprisoned, which he felt to be a necessary precondition to the coming of the kingdom. Hoffman remained in prison until his death in 1543. His prophecies remained unfulfilled but his influence cannot be underestimated. Hoffman had helped to plant the seeds of Anabaptism in the Netherlands.

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