Fun Facts From Church History: The Reformation of the Church Requires an Educated Clergy

Zwingli was among the first to recognize the fact that without a learned clergy there would be no use in attempts to reform the Church.  Consequently…



Zwingli sought to reform the Carolinum as well as the churches, as a necessary part of the great work of the Reformation.

Accordingly, on the 19th of June, in the same year [i.e., 1525], he substituted for the choir-service what he called “prophecy,” according to 1 Cor. 14, thus engrafting upon the Carolinum a higher institution which transformed it into a remarkably practical school of theology, ancient languages, and elementary science.

It is here that Zwingli accomplished his greatest work, as an educator. The school was in session every week-day, Friday excepted, and was opened at 7 o’clock in the morning, in the summer, and at 8 o’clock, in the winter. A month’s vacation was granted three times a year.

pellicanThe course of study centered on the Bible. The first hour, i. e. the “prophecy” proper, was given to exegesis, with some elements of systematic and practical theology to meet the wants of the Reformation.

The second hour consisted of a divine service, in which the people of the city took part with the students, among whom were also town-parsons, predicants, canons, and chaplains. Here the same Scriptures were treated again, but so simplified that the people could understand them; and we may add that the students themselves not only obtained a clearer knowledge from this repetition but they also learned, in a most practical manner, how to present the truth in their future charges.

Friday was market-day, and the people from the country came to hear the preaching, which was largely intended for their special benefit. The afternoon of each school-day was devoted to the study of the languages and elementary science.

judThe first professor chosen to assist Zwingli was Ceporin, a Greek and Hebrew scholar of great merit. He was elected, June 5, 1525, but he had been teaching at Zurich, in 1522, and later, at Basel, where his Greek grammar was printed.  At the Carolinum, he filled the chair of professor of Hebrew, but only till December 20th of the same year, when he died from over-exertion, at the age of 26.

In March, the following spring, the learned Pellican became his successor. Jacob Ammann was, at the same time elected professor of Latin and Rudolph Collin, professor of Greek. Megander, Leo Jud, and Myconius also assisted Zwingli. Myconius, however, taught at the Fraumunster School, but he conducted an exercise in New Testament exegesis there, every afternoon at three o’clock, which crowds of the laity and students attended, whereas Zwingli had charge of Old Testament exegesis, at the Carolinum, besides being its head and also the pastor of a congregation.

The call of Pellican includes the salary to be paid him, which was to be equal to Zwingli’s, namely, sixty to seventy florins and lodging.*

Without an educated clergy, the Church can never be reformed.

*Zwingli, U. The Christian Education of Youth, (pp. 45–48).