Just yesterday, I ordered a work that I had my eye on for some time. Its name is Anabaptist History & Theology: An Introduction written by one of my favorite scholars C. Arnold Snyder. Pandora Press publishes it (1995) and it is 434 pages of Anabaptist scholarship, it also contains historical maps and illustrations. The blurb for this volume reads:
Anabaptist History and Theology: An Introduction brings together the latest scholarship in telling the story of Anabaptist origins and development. Thoroughly researched and documented, the book is nevertheless written in an accessible and lively style. This is a book that should be read by all who have an interest in Reformation history and theology. It is absolutely required reading for any and all who have an interest in Reformation radicalism.
Pandora also publishes a student edition the description for this state:
The unabridged version of Anabaptist History and Theology, published in 1995, received high praise from reviewers. One called the book “a masterful survey,” while another concluded that the book “tells the Anabaptist story with impressive synthetic power.” Anabaptist History and Theology: Revised Student Edition follows the same narrative format and story line as the unabridged book. But the text has been completely rewritten and redesigned to meet the needs of the non-specialist reader. This second, revised edition features larger print and numerous sidebars and text boxes.
I passed on the student edition in light of it being designed for the “non-specialist reader” nor would I look forward to the distracting sidebars. It almost sounds like a ‘For Dummies’ book. I love technical works with plenty of footnotes. I ordered directly from Pandora Press but I did manage to find a few reviews on Amazon.com. The following are reproductions of the reviews.
Jeremy Garber on February 28, 2002
Snyder outlines a readable and informative introduction to the 16th century Anabaptist movement and its major players. Anabaptism branched off from Luther’s reformation because the early Anabaptist leaders felt Luther had not gone far enough in applying Scripture to everyday life. They stressed the importance of only being baptized upon truly understanding and accepting the Christian call, and of living out their faith rather than just professing it.
Snyder traces the various branches of Anabaptism, rejecting the notion that there was just one Anabaptist church. He compares the various leaders and their theologies, but never in a condescending or overly technical way. The final chapter crowns the book, asking what Anabaptists have to offer the various faith traditions of today, and what they can learn. I recommend this to Anabaptists seeking to learn more about their history, and other people of faith wanting to understand where the modern Amish, Mennonites and Brethren gained their faith.
J. D. Martinez on October 18, 2013
This book is one of the best introductions to Anabaptist history available. While it pushes over 400 pages, the 27 brief chapters make it exceptionally easily to digest and reflect on. The author finds that balance between a detailed analysis and drowning his reader with superfluous content. Anyone who is studying the Reformation era should read this book for a strong summary of all the major (and many minor) Anabaptist groups of the 16th century. It is well worth the investment.
The above reviews has me salivating I can’t wait for it to arrive, one of the main reasons why I want this work is that it calls into question the popular polygenetic origin of the Anabaptists. While not endorsing the monogenetic theory of the Bender School it instead argues for an eventual convergence of thought as the Swiss Brethren’s influence spread throughout the various regions thus demonstrating more interaction than the material evidence presents.
Now it is that long wait until my purchase arrives….