If You Don’t Return Books You Borrow, You Should Die… And Other Medieval Curses

All of which sound totally legit to me.

The use of these book curses seemingly sits at odds with the monastic lifestyle. Medieval monks dedicated their lives to imitating Christ, including his virtues of patience, forgiveness and love for mankind. The fact that monks used these curses testifies to the immense material and spiritual value that they attributed to their libraries: their books had not only been extremely costly and labour-intensive to produce, but often they also contained the only copies of a particular work to which their communities had access. The loss of a book did not only mean a material loss, but it could have permanently deprived a religious community of a work of knowledge that was essential for preserving or developing its religious identity. This may explain why some religious communities went to great lengths to protect their books. Book curses were a radical but effective way of preserving their book collections.

On Zwingli’s Birthday: 24 Treatises

Nr. 1 Das Fabelgedicht vom Ochsen (lat.), (Herbst 1510)
Nr. 2 Das Fabelgedicht vom Ochsen (dt.), (Herbst 1510)
Nr. 3 De gestis inter Gallos et Helvetios relatio, (Herbst 1512)
Nr. 4 Der Labyrinth, (Frühjahr 1516)
Nr. 5 Gebetslied in der Pest, (Ende 1519)
Nr. 6 Zeugenaussage zu den Soldverträgen mit dem Ausland, 1521
Nr. 7 Predigtworte zu den Soldverträgen mit dem Ausland, 1521
Nr. 8 Von Erkiesen und Freiheit der Speisen, 16. April 1522
Nr. 9 Acta Tiguri 7. 8. 9. diebus aprilis 1522, (April 1522)
Nr. 10 Eine göttliche Vermahnung an die Eidgenossen zu Schwyz, 16. Mai 1522
Nr. 11 Supplicatio ad Hugonem episcopum Constantiensem, 2. Juli 1522
Nr. 12 Eine freundliche Bitte und Ermahnung an die Eidgenossen, 13. Juli 1522
Nr. 13 Apologeticus Archeteles, 22./23. August 1522
Nr. 14 Von Klarheit und Gewißheit des Wortes Gottes, 6. September 1522
Nr. 15 Eine Predigt von der ewig reinen Magd Maria, 17. September 1522
Nr. 16 Suggestio deliberandi super propositione Hadriani Nerobergae facta, (November) 1522
Nr. 17i Aktenstücke zur ersten Zürcher Disputation: I. Die 67 Artikel Zwinglis
Nr. 17ii Aktenstücke zur ersten Zürcher Disputation: II. Das Ausschreiben der Disputation
Nr. 17iii Aktenstücke zur ersten Zürcher Disputation: III. Der Abschied der Disputation
Nr. 18 Handlung der Versammlung in der Stadt Zürich auf den 29. Januar 1523 (Erste Zürcher Disputation), 3. März 1523
Nr. 19 Entschuldigung etlicher Zwingli unwahrlich zugelegter Artikel, 3. Juli 1523]]

Nr. 20 Auslegen und Gründe der Schlußreden, 14. Juli 1523
Nr. 21 Von göttlicher und menschlicher Gerechtigkeit, 30. Juli 1523
Nr. 22 Quo pacto ingenui adolescentes formandi sint, 1. August 1523
Nr. 23 De canone missae epichiresis, 29. August 1523
Nr. 24 Vortrag zur Reformation des Stifts, (September) 1523

‘Not a Novice’…

There’s a very practical reason that novices should not assume leadership responsibility in the Church: pride will destroy them-

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence  (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);  not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.  Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.  (1 Tim. 3:2-7)

Novices, like the Devil, are too often the victims of their own prideful folly.  Spare them, and keep them out of positions of leadership.  Let them grow before you heap responsibilities on them.

As You Depart from 2017 and Enter 2018…

Keep in mind

Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.’ And all the people shall say,`Amen!’ 

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God.  — (Deut. 27:26-28:2)

Remembering Emil Egli

egli2Emil Egli was a brilliant historian and though his name is nearly forgotten in all but the dustiest corners of academia, he was a giant in the field of Reformation studies. Born on the 9th of December, 1848, he died on the 31st of December, 1908.  Egli

… was a Swiss church historian. He studied theology, was ordained in 1870, and served in several villages of the canton of Zürich. In his student days he was deeply interested in historical studies. In 1873 appeared his important work, Die Schlacht bei Cappell 1531; in 1879, Die Züricher Wiedertäufer zur Reformationszeit, a brief product of his Aktensammlung zur Geschichte der Züricher Reformation in den Jahren 1519-1532, which he published (1879) with the support of Zürich and offers an uncommonly rich source on the early history of the Anabaptist movement. In 1887 followed a smaller volume, Die St. Galler Täufer.


Egli occupied himself principally with the Reformation in Switzerland. In 1879 he began his work at the university of Zürich as lecturer in church history, and in 1892 he was made a full professor. In addition to a series of shorter works he published Heinrich Bullingers Diarium des Jahres 1504-1574in the second volume of the Quellen zur schweizerischen Reformationsgeschichte, which he founded. After 1897 he published a semiannual periodical, Zwingliana, and after 1899 two volumes of Analecta Reformatorica (documents and treatises on the history of Zwingli and his times; also biographies of Bibliander, Ceporin, Johannes Bullinger). In 1902 he provided for a new edition of the Kessler’s Sabbata (a publication of the historical association of St. Gall). With G. Finsler (Basel) he began the publication of the new edition of Zwingli’s works (Zwingli’s Werke, Leipzig, 1905 ff., in Corpus Reformatorum).

He was astonishing.  He is remembered.

More Sad News: Lawrence Stager has Died

Via Peter Machinist <machinis@fas.harvard.edu> as well as other colleagues came the saddest news about Lawrence (Larry) Stager, who died at home yesterday (Friday), apparently after a fall. He would have been 75 this coming Tuesday. Funeral arrangements and plans for a memorial are not complete as of this writing.

So Jack Sasson.  Sad indeed.

Sad News

REVELL, Ernest John — Born April 15th, 1934, died Dec. 15, 2017 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Predeceased by his beloved wife of 52 years,

Ann Margaret, (née Morgan). Loving father of John and Bridget, fond father-in-law of Stephen Marmura, proud grandfather of Hana and Alex Marmura and devoted brother of Elizabeth Revell.

John was a scholar in the field of Biblical Hebrew and he remained active, publishing as recently as 2016. He served the University of Toronto as a professor, chair and professor emeritus in the Department of Near Eastern Studies which later became the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations. He was also a member of the Royal Society of Canada.

Beyond his work, John was a talented botanical watercolour artist and an avid gardener. He delighted in taking long walks and when he retired to England, he took great pleasure in being a bell ringer for his local church. Cremation followed by a funeral service took place at St. Paul”s Anglican Church, Antigonish, Wednesday December 20, 11:00. His wish was that his ashes be returned to England to be interred near his father”s grave in the cemetery close to his childhood home. Family flowers only. 

Via Jack Sasson

Fun Facts From Church History: When Luther Wrote a Preface For a Book He Hadn’t Read

The editor of Luther’s Prefaces writes

It is hard to imagine these “sermons” being preached in the length at which they were printed: even without the given title pages and Luther’s brief prefaces their span is formidable. Otto Clemen questions whether Luther even read the whole of both sermons. Nonetheless, he used the opportunity to address some of the pressing issues brought to the fore by the Diet of Augsburg.

Clemen remarks-

“[T]he great Christian teacher Dr. Martin Luther of godly erudition” would hardly have approved of himself being referred to (without irony) as the “pope, sovereign head of them all” (i.e., the ministers of the church), “servant and chief” in the “Evangelical Church,” or of the notion that all Christians might undertake to administer the Supper in an emergency

In the Preface Luther writes

[I]t must be confessed that the Church neither became nor can become the holy Church through works or merit. Otherwise, what good would Christ and His death be for us? So, too, the holy Church cannot be without error and sin with respect to life. Otherwise, it would be lying and mocking God when it prayed in the Our Father: “Forgive us our debts” [Matt. 6:12]. And Christ would Himself have to be lying when He refers to His dear apostles, who were holy, saying, “You are evil and without understanding,” etc. [cf. Mark 7:18ff.; Matt. 7:11; 15:16].

It seems that Luther couldn’t help himself when it came to having something to say about the papacy. Even if that meant writing a preface for a book he hadn’t really read (in the same way that some today write reviews of books they have never opened).

Gregory was One Of Zwingli’s Dearest Friends

In 1487, Bartholomew Zwingli [Huldrych’s uncle] removed from Wildhaus to Wesen, a town on the western end of the now little visited but grand and striking Lake of Walenstadt. It was only a matter of a dozen miles to the south-west of Wildhaus, but the bristling Churfirsten came between.

Wesen was the market-town of the district, and Bartholomew had scarcely been inducted into his rectory before he was promoted to be dekan, or superintendent, which made him a person of considerable importance and influence. In the rectory at Wesen Zwingli lived with his uncle, and in the parish school under his uncle’s direction he made his first acquaintance with learning.

But as it was soon evident that he had the making of a scholar in him his uncle sent him in 1494 to Basel, or rather to Klein Basel, which is that part of the city on the east bank of the Rhine, to the school of St. Theodore’s Church, kept by that gentle and wise master, Gregory Buenzli, in whom Zwingli found a fatherly friend.

Master and pupil afterwards carried on an intimate correspondence, but only three letters of it remain. Two are from Buenzli (vii., 111 and 567), dated February 3, 1520, and December 1, 1526, respectively; the first of which shows that Buenzli, who in 1507 (Egli, Analecta, i., 2) succeeded Bartholomew Zwingli as pastor at Wesen, was still there in 1520, the latter having died in 1513; the second, that Buenzli was in 1526 failing mentally. The one from Zwingli (vii., 257), dated December 30, 1522, alludes to the length and intimacy of their friendship and shows quite characteristic interest in promoting the affairs of one of Buenzli’s friends. Zwingli acknowledges Buenzli’s activity in the cause of the Reformation in his “Instructions for Walenstadt,” dated December 13, 1530 (ii., 3, 86)(S.M. Jackson).


Zwingli’s Letter to Gregor Bünzli


Recte sentis, carissime Gregori, cum putas tibi licere a me, quęcunque usus requirat, petere; nam ego tuis respondere votis ita cupio, ut non possim magis, cum ob summam, qua praeditus es, pietatem, tum ob inveteratam longis annis amiciciam, quibus factum est, ut communi amico nostro Laurentio Moero, viro iuxta pio atque docto, ex animi mei sententia cnsilium dederim, nihil veritus quorundam insidiosas suspiciones. Malui enim ipse me malorum calumniis obiicere, quam virum tam probe de Christi doctrina sentientem in rerum suarum naufragium pertrahere; nam sacerdotium istuc, pro quo ad nos venit, ita extenuatum est, ut vix Euclionem aliquem vel Chremilum enutrire possit; taceo, quod pręstantior vir sit, quam qui rei tantum domesticę curam gerere debeat et non potius magni gregis esse dux.

Adde, quod Rhetiorum Curię docendo Christum longe plus boni parare potest, quam Tiguro tacendo ac ad sarcinas sedendo et nos expectando. Quod certe cogeretur; nam verbi ministerium a senatu nobis commendatum est, a quo munere citra sęnatus voluntatem sine tumultu deiici non possem. Quid facerem, qum is me per fidem eliceret, ut consulerem, et tu per amiciciam iuberes? Consului itaque, ut ad suos redeat nec deserat, nisi dei spiritus iubeat ex una civitate in aliam fugere [Matth. 10. 23], Rhetos Christo lucrifaciat.

Sic enim apud nos comparatum est, ut, si cum quibusdam canonicis sentiret, hostem haberet plebem; si contra eos, multum decederet rei; nam ea, quę promisimus, haud diserte expressimus. Ex quibus obiter id expiscari potes, quid de Christo sentiant quidam sacerdotes, atque hoc in urbe tam unanimi consensu recte credente. Sed fuerunt sacerdotum principes longe infestiores Christo et scribę, quam Herodes et Pilatus.

Quamobrem nihil inconstantię homini velim imputes: servasset, hercle, cum rerum dispendio fidem, nisi nos eum hac opinione liberavissemus. Vehementer enim dolebat Curiam suo euangelista privari, quę unde similem nactura esset, non occurrebat. Prudentes esse iussit Christus [Matth. 10. 16]. Vale et pauca, quę cum illo de sanctorum, hoc est divorum intercessione coram contulimus, hominem memorare iube.  Vale iterum.

Ex Tiguro, 3. Kalendas Ianuarias MCCCCCxxiij.
Huldrichus Zuinglius.