Menno's contemporaries

Obbe Philips (c. 1500-1568)

Born around 1500 as the son of a priest, Obbe Philips (sometimes spelled as 'Philipsz' or 'Filips') was the (probably older) brother of the better known Dirk Philips. Obbe studied medicine and became both a surgeon and a barber. He got married around 1530. After his baptism in 1533-34 he was ordained as elder of the Anabaptist movement.

However, he became increasingly disillusioned with the movement, which he found too legalistic and rigid. In 1539-40 Obbe withdrew from the Anabaptist cause. Before that, he had ordained his brother Dirk, as well as David Joris and Menno Simons as leaders.

After his withdrawal Obbe lived in the German city of Rostock. Around 1560, he wrote in his Confession: Recollections of the Years 1533-1536, "I am still miserable of heart today, that I ... was so shamefully and miserably deceived ... I did not stop forthwith but permitted myself to bring poor souls to this — that I through the importuning of the brethren, commissioned to the office: Dietrich Philips in Amsterdam; David Joris in Delft; and Menno Simons in Groningen ... It is this which is utter grief to my heart, and which I will lament before my God as long as I live…"

However, even after his defection, he spoke with respect of baptism on confession of faith. He only criticized false prophets and revolutionaries, not Menno and his peaceful followers. Obbe died in 1568.