Heinrich Bullinger Werke, Band WA4 = HI1
2018, 1854 (in drei Bänden) Seiten, 16.8 x 24.4 cm, Leinen mit SU. ISBN 978-3-290-17851-2. 450,00 €
A review copy was graciously sent in July and I’ve now made my way through the work.
The three volumes in this set are comprised of the famous historical survey composed by Bullinger towards the end of his life titled the Tigurinerchronik (hereafter TC). The Zurich Chronicles. This work is not to be confused with the 3 volumes of Bullinger written on the history of the Reformation- his Reformationsgeschichte. The two works differ in scope and in focus.
TVZ’s new critical edition of the TC is comprised of three volumes. The first two are the work itself and the third is a tremendously important supplemental volume the contents of which I will describe shortly.
Volume 1 contains books 1-8 of the TC and is prefaced by a foreword, an introduction to the work, and a word of appreciation for the work’s many important supporters. More precisely, Peter Opitz and Martin Rüsch take a couple of pages to set the stage for the work that follows. The introduction, written by Hans Urs Bächtold, discusses Bullinger as historian, the TC’s development and history, the chief manuscripts incorporated into the present critical edition, and printed forerunners of the work.
The critical edition of the TC is offered exactly as presented in the oldest manuscripts, including morphologically and textually. Readers will experience what the first readers experienced in every respect save the font utilized. Modern Times Roman-esque print in used instead of the Fraktur-esque font of the first printed copies. References to the original works are found in the margins so that interested researchers can find the source pages without any difficulty at all. Sentences are also numbered so that locating a particular piece of information from the index is very simple. Copious footnotes are also provided and these contain historical and linguistic/ textual information. Also contained in the margins are subject indicators, so that readers can find matters of interest and follow the argument of the work at a glance. These, naturally, originate with the first printed editions and are here faithfully reproduced.
The language is, naturally, the German of Bullinger’s Zurich. Readers will need to have that language well in hand or at the very least be willing to look up uncertain words in the lexicon provided in the third volume. There are also swaths of Latin.
Volume two of the massive work covers books 9 through 14 of the TC. Appendices are included as well which include three supplemental historical documents:
- Schulsatzungen 1559
- Großes Mandat 1550
Pages in the two volumes are numbered consecutively, so that volume two does not begin with page 1, but carries on where volume one left off. This makes finding items referenced in the Index quite simple.
Concerning the Index, it is found in the third volume of the work and it too is very much a work to be consulted. It begins with an overview, chapter by chapter, of the contents of the TC. Second, readers will discover the very useful lexicon or glossary of unfamiliar terms. Bullinger’s German, like Zwingli’s, was particular and at times idiosyncratic. So a glossary is provided for terms that, while common in Zurich in 1575, are not so common any longer.
Third, a listing of printed sources is provided. Fourth, hand written sources are listed. Fifth, a modern bibliography is provided. Next, an index of persons and places. And finally, a series of photographic plates of Bullinger’s original hand written work.
This work is encyclopedic. And it is brilliantly executed. Besides simply reading through it as a narrative work (which readers certainly should do), it is also immensely useful for tracking down various persons and their doings from the perspective of Bullinger’s point of view. So, for instance, one of the more interesting person (who nonetheless is hardly known outside of specialist circles) is one Conrad Hoffmann. Hoffmann despised Zwingli and the entire time Zwingli and Hoffmann were in Zurich together (from 1519 till 1524 when Hoffmann left) (Hoffmann died in 1525), Hoffmann was Zwingli’s constant foe.
Making use of the index of persons, one can easily discover the places in the Chronicle where Hoffmann is mentioned: 380:28 (that is, page 320, line 28), 399:13, 1184:24, 1222:20, and 1229:16. Reading through those passages one discovers that Bullinger is thoroughly capable of objectivity and rationality unimpinged by personal sentiments. Bullinger, in other words, is an excellent historian.
And that, I suspect, is the key to the work. That is, readers can take Bullinger seriously and they can take his historical reconstruction as unbiased and accurate. The critical edition of the work opens it up to modern readers and by doing so opens up the history of Zurich in a way that contemporary history simply cannot do. Accordingly, this work is indispensable for students of the Reformation. Indispensable. It cannot, and should not, be ignored. Rather, it should be consulted and made use of.
Further, it belongs on the shelves of researchers and libraries around the globe. If other acquisitions need to be set aside for budgetary reasons, this one should be obtained. Tell your librarian, your spouse, your church, your neighbors, your family, and anyone who may have a little spare cash to pitch in and get it.
Now, if we can just get a critical edition of The Reformationsgeschichte!