Zwinglius Redivivus

“Der glaubende Christ ist der denkende Theologe.” – Hans Hübner

Archive for the ‘Bullinger’ Category

The Second Afternoon Session: and, A (Rising) Scholar You Should Know

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Bullinger and Calvin were the topic discussed by Pierrick Hildebrand, or more precisely, their interpretations of Genesis 17.  Pierrick did a very fine job with his paper and it was immensely instructive.  His work is very promising and his larger project (on Bullinger and Covenant theology) sounds really fascinating.  The only way I could have been more pleased with his paper is if it had been on Zwingli.  But, alas…

Pierrick is a PhD student here in Zurich and he’s one of those super bright, exceptionally insightful young (rising) scholars you should know- and keep your eye on.

If, in the future, you see his name on an article or book, do avail yourself of reading it.  You shan’t be disappointed.

Written by Jim

August 26, 2014 at 11:35

The Offices of the Heinrich Bullinger Briefweschsel Edition

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So during one of the breaks I met Reinhard Bodenmann, who is the man in charge of the edition of Bullinger’s letters that UZH and TVZ are producing.  He was exceptionally nice so I, in my normal (that would be, creepy and unnerving) way went down to his office a few minutes later and interrupted his work.

We chatted a bit and he shared some interesting information about Bullinger’s Letters and their ongoing publication.

Naturally he was very gracious.  What struck me is the immense difficulty of producing such an edition.  The process is amazingly arduous and time consuming, as sometimes the letters are hard to read.  Here’s a photo of the handwriting of Bullinger:


Can you imagine transcribing and editing that?  These folk are heroes for undertaking and continuing this work.

Here are a few more snapshots:

Speaking of Bullinger’s letters, if you’re in Aarau, you’ll want to go here:

Buchvernissage «Heinrich Bullinger Briefwechsel», 22. September 2014, 18.30 Uhr, Stadtarchiv Aarau.

Band 16: Briefe von Januar bis Mai 1546


Grußwort- Hanspeter Hilfiker, Stadtrat, Ressort Kultur und Sport

Der internationale Briefwechsel Bullingers. Kurze Darstellung – Reinhard Bodenmann, Leiter der Heinrich Bullinger-Briefwechseledition

Ein neuentdeckter Brief Bullingers im Stadtarchiv Aarau- Raoul Richner, Stadtarchivar von Aarau

Die Bedeutung von Bullingers Briefwechsel für die Geschichtsschreibung des Aargaus. Einige Beispiele – Judith Steiniger, Bullinger-Briefwechseledition, Institut für Schweizerische Reformationsgeschichte, Zürich.

Moderation: Alexandra Kess, Bullinger-Briefwechseledition, Institut für Schweizerische Reformationsgeschichte, Zürich

Apéro, 19:30 Uhr offeriert von der Stadt Aarau

Written by Jim

August 26, 2014 at 11:25

Posted in Bullinger

A Sad Day in the Life of Heinrich Bullinger

A fatal plague in 1541 deprived Bullinger of his aged mother (Anna Wiederkehr) (August 16) and one of his sons (September 30); and in the next year, of his beloved colleague Leo Judæ (June 19), in the midst of his invaluable labours on the Biblia Tigurina. The preface to this translation, which Bibliander had principally completed, was written by Bullinger in February 1543.*

*The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The Fifth Decade. (T. Harding, Ed.) (pp. xii–xiii).

Written by Jim

August 16, 2014 at 12:28

Posted in Bullinger

Bullinger: On War

On his discussion of war in his Second Decade, Ninth Sermon, Bullinger observes

bullinger …If the magistrate’s purpose be to kill the guiltless, I declared in my former sermons that then his people ought not to obey his wicked commandments. Let the magistrate therefore have an eye to himself, that he abuse not his lawful authority. And although the magistrate be licensed to make war for just and necessary causes; yet, notwithstanding, war is a thing most full of peril, and draweth with itself an endless troop of mischievous evils.

By war the just judgment of God doth plague the men whom his fatherly warning could never move; but among them many times, too, the guiltless feel the whip. In war, for the most part, soldiers misuse themselves, and thereby incur God’s heavy displeasure: there is no evil in all the world that war upholdeth not.

By war both scarcity of every thing and dearth do arise: for highways are stopped, corn upon the ground is trodden down and marred, whole villages burnt, provision goeth to wrack, handicrafts are unoccupied, merchandise do cease, and all do perish, both rich and poor.

The valiant strong men are slain in the battle; the cowardly sort run away for their lives to hide their heads, reserving themselves to be tormented with more exquisite and terrible kinds of cruel punishments: for wicked knaves are promoted to dignity, and bear the sway, which abuse mankind like savage beasts.

Hands are wrung on every side; widows and children cry out and lament; the wealth, that hath been carefully gathered to help in want to come, is spoiled and stolen away; cities are rased, virgins and unmarriageable maidens are shamefully deflowered, all honesty is utterly violated, old men are handled unreverently, laws are not exercised, religion and learning are nothing set by, godless knaves and cut-throats have the dominion: and therefore in the scriptures war is called the scourge of God. For with war he plagueth incurable idolaters, and those which stubbornly contemn his word.*

War, in substance, even when waged for a ‘just’ cause, is a sign of sin and the curse and evidence of humanity’s utter distance from God and unfamiliarity with his love.

*The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The First and Second Decades. (pp. 373–374).

Written by Jim

August 9, 2014 at 11:34

Posted in Bullinger

Bullinger’s Letter to Bucer Regarding, Among Other Things, Luther’s “On the Jews…”

Earlier today I mentioned Luther’s wicked book ‘On the Jews and Their Lies’ and the fact that Bullinger and the other Reformers were more than a little displeased about it, mentioning a letter from Bullinger to Bucer which included a discussion of it.

I wrote Emidio Campi and other trusted advisers and Emidio replied

The letter to Bucer is dated 8 December, 1543. You find it in HBBW 13, No. 1825, pp. 333-338.

Thankfully, those letters are available online- so I grabbed the one presently of interest and post it here for your edification and enjoyment:











Written by Jim

August 5, 2014 at 16:31

The Reticence of the Editors of Luther’s Works in English to Publish his Book on the Jews

In the preface, the editors of the American Edition of Luther’s works write

The fact that Luther, during the last years of his life, wrote treatises harshly condemnatory of the Jews and Judaism is rather widely known. The treatises themselves, however, have not previously been available in English. The publication here of the longest and most infamous of them, On the Jews and Their Lies, will no doubt prove dismaying to many readers, not only because it shows Luther at his least attractive, but also because of the potential misuse of this material. The risk to Luther’s reputation is gladly borne, since the exposure of a broader range of his writings to modern critical judgment is an inherent purpose of this American edition. However, the thought of possible misuse of this material, to the detriment either of the Jewish people or of Jewish-Christian relations today, has occasioned great misgivings. Both editor and publisher, therefore, wish to make clear at the very outset that publication of this treatise is being undertaken only to make available the necessary documents for scholarly study of this aspect of Luther’s thought, which has played so fateful a role in the development of anti-Semitism in Western culture. Such publication is in no way intended as an endorsement of the distorted views of Jewish faith and practice or the defamation of the Jewish people which this treatise contains.*

Luther’s book doesn’t just make us squirm today, it was also viewed negatively in Luther’s own day, among his own supporters!

Already upon its first appearance in the year 1543, Luther’s treatise caused widespread dismay, not only among contemporary Jews but also in Protestant circles. Melanchthon and Osiander are known to have been unhappy with its severity. Henry Bullinger, in correspondence with Martin Bucer, remarked that Luther’s views reminded him of those of the Inquisitors. And a subsequent document prepared by the churches of Zurich declared (speaking specifically of the treatise Vom Schem Hamphoras, published later in 1543), that “if it had been written by a swineherd, rather than by a celebrated shepherd of souls, it might have some—but very little—justification.”*   [The Zurich document is cited in WA 53, 574. For the views of Melanchthon, Osiander, Bullinger, and other Reformers, see Lewin, Luthers Stellung zu den Juden (cited above, p. 96, n. 35), pp. 97 ff.]


(WA 53,574)

*Luther’s works, vol. 47: The Christian in Society IV.

Written by Jim

August 5, 2014 at 06:58

Heinrich Bullinger Werke: Kommentare zu den neutestamentlichen Briefen (Bd 7)

9783290177348Im Geist der Reformation verstand Heinrich Bullinger Theologie in erster Linie als Auslegung der Heiligen Schrift. Mit diesem Band – dem siebtem in der Reihe seiner Theologischen Schriften – wird die Edition seiner Kommentare zu den neutestamentlichen Briefen fortgesetzt. Darin enthalten sind die Auslegungen zu den Briefen an die Galater, Epheser, Philipper und Kolosser.

Die Texte sind anhand der Erstauflage sowie der ersten Gesamtausgabe der Kommentare Bullingers zu den neutestamentlichen Briefen (1537) historisch-kritisch ediert worden. Die Edition wird durch eine Einleitung und insgesamt vier Register (Bibelstellen, Quellen, Personen und Orte) erschlossen.

TVZ have sent a review copy of this new publication.  It’s an unexpected and most welcome blessing.

Luca Baschera opens the volume with an Introduction which evaluates the structure and sources utilized in the present edition of Bullinger’s commentaries on these four New Testament books.  The commentary on Galatians runs from pages 9-124.  Ephesians occupies pages 125-208.  Philippians is found on pages 209-250.  And Colossians is exegeted on pages 251-294.

The book concludes with a series of bibliographies (on sources, literature, etc.) and indices (biblical, source, persons, and places).

Baschera observes, of Bullinger’s exegetical work herein contained,

Da diese vier Briefe Bullinger zufolge eine Art ‘summa’ des christlichen Glaubens bieten, sie es ferner angemessen, sie als eine Einheit zu behandeln (p. ix).

The body of the volume is, of course, commentary.  Especially helpful are the marginal road-signs which assist readers in finding particular subjects speedily.  Here’s a photo of what I mean (and by the way, the TVZ editions of both Bullinger’s works and Zwingli’s works offer the same marginal sign-posts).


As to Bullinger’s remarks on the text- they are concise and text-centric.  Bullinger may well be familiar with textual issues (such as the famous example at Eph 1:1) but he never lets on that he does.  rather, he focuses all of his interest and attention on explaining the biblical text itself to and for his readers.

But, as one may well expect, those readers are the educated clerics of the Canton (and further).  Bullinger writes in Latin for two reasons:  first, because his audience is all of Europe and the learned of Europe all read Latin.  And second, had he written in German (especially the dialect of German used in Zurich), his audience would have been considerably more narrow.  A modern example may help- imagine a scholar wishing to publish a commentary on Ephesians today and deciding which language to use.  If he uses, for instance, Polish, his audience will be quite small.  If, though, he chooses English, his audience suddenly expands exponentially.

Bullinger wished to have his commentary read- so he wrote it in the most common language of the day (in Europe anyway).  Bullinger aimed to help educated clerics across Europe understand Scripture so that they could then explain it to their congregations.  Bullinger was, in sum, a very practical man.

Arriving, then, at a discussion of the commentary proper, a few citations may help readers get a hold on Bullinger’s brilliance and insight:

Of Gal 2:20 (one of my favorite texts), B. writes, in part

Constat enim in uno homine duos esse, veterem et novum.  Secundum veterem ergo non vivimus, sed secundum novum vivit in nobis Christus (p. 51-52).

On Gal 5:22

Non dicit iam opera spiritus, sed fructus spiritus (p. 111).

Such examples could be multiplied hundreds and hundreds of times.  Suffice it to say, Bullinger’s gift of scriptural interpretation is on full display.

bascheraThere is nothing in this volume to criticize.  It is beautifully printed (the font is crystal clear) and sturdily bound.  The German bits by the editor are helpful but not overbearing.  Baschera introduces the text and sets it in its context but then simply guides and helps us understand Bullinger (in excellent footnotes filled with historical and biographical details.  The footnotes are not to be skipped).  Baschera points readers to Bullinger and his era, he doesn’t hover over your shoulder and tell you what to think.  And that’s the mark of a talented editor.

I love this book and will consult it often.  I believe you will also find it loaded with merit.  I commend it without hesitation or mental reservation.

Written by Jim

August 1, 2014 at 07:54


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