Today With Zwingli: Jerome Emser Is a Goat

Portrait of Ulrich Zwingli after his death 1531

On the 20th of August in 1524 (which just happened to have been a Saturday), Huldrych Zwingli published his scathing Adversus Hieronymum Emserum antibolon.  His assessment of the man was, in his own words, that he was

… ein Schreihals (clamosus homo), mehr nicht.

Luther, in his several dealings with Emser, called him a goat.  Indeed, if you want to read something fun, read Luther’s utterly ‘dripping with pure contempt and loathing’ for Emser book titled Answer to the Hyperchristian, Hyperspiritual, and Hyperlearned Book by Goat Emser in Leipzig—Including Some Thoughts Regarding His Companion, the Fool Murner.

Neither of the Reformers thought anything of the bombastic dude.

Emser had attended University (at Basel) but was kicked out for being abusive to one of his Professors.  That led the dullard to despise the Swiss.  So when Zwingli commenced publishing on the Mass, Emser saw it as an opportunity to attack those whom he hated.  The whole gist of his silly essay was that the Saints would side with the Catholic Church in its argument with the Reformers (!).

Zwingli informed the dropout (or rather, kicked-out) that the Bible was the final authority for Christians, not tradition or the Saints.  When it came to the central matter of the Eucharist, Zwingli simply repeated his standard belief-

Eucharistia cibus spiritualis est.

And so it is- as all right thinking biblically literate Christians know.

The work commences-

Parum abfuit, o levissime Emsere – nam ęgocerotas plus quam cervos leves esse oportet -, quin a clarissimo cęlestis verbi lumine nos avelleres, ac Romani pontificis partibus adiungeres tuo isto minaci libello, quem contra confutationem nostram, quam in missę canonem protrusimus potius quam edidimus, evulgasti. Ita est altiloquus, ut nemo prę sensuum arduitate capere possit, nisi in puteum descendat; ita scripturis solidioribus, puta legendis sanctorum et aliis plusquam anilibus neniis firmatus, ut expugnare nullus queat, nisi sit cucurbitis, peponibus et macerata caule probe instructus.

If you’d like to read more about Emser’s expulsion from Basel, you can read this very fine essay by the eminent Zwingli scholar Georg Finsler in Zwingliana.