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Today With Zwingli

On 19 August, 1530 Zwingli published his Supplikation und Begehren der Prädikanten zu Zürich. The topic at hand is nothing less than a plea with the Pastors of the Canton to remain faithful to the Gospel and to continue on the path of reform. He begins

Fromm, vest etc., lieb herren! Üwer ersam wysheit mag ring erwegen, was übels und unrates zuo diser zyt, dero alle ding so gefarlich stond, under den christlichen stetten entston möchte, wo sy in der leer nit eintrechtig. Es mag ouch das christlich burgrecht zweyerley ler nit erlyden.

So aber Benedictus Burgower, prędicant oder pfarrer zuo Schaffhusen, vom sacrament des nachtmals Christi nit glych mit üns in allen andren stetten leret, darus arges nit das kleinst erwachsen möcht, ist ünser ernstlich beger an üwer ersam wysheyt: Die welle ünser lieb Eydgnossen und mittburger von Schaffhusen darzuo vermögen, das sy üns gedachten Benedicten stellen und darzuo halten, das er bericht eintweders von üns empfahe oder üns gebe; dann wir inn hierinn der unwarheyt und unrechter leer leider muessend schuldigen, über das er sich vil eins andren hatt lassen zuo Bernn mercken.

Er lert ouch unsicher und valsch, so er von Christi beden naturen leret, sam die gotheyt ouch gelidten hab, dess wir inn, ouch anders, so mitlouft, bewysen embietendt.

Zwingli makes his points briefly (in just four pages). It’s still a nice piece, a sort of ‘stick with it guys’ rally cry.

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Posted by on 19 Aug 2019 in Modern Culture, Zwingli


Today With Zwingli

What is the Eucharist?  Is it a sacrifice?  A memorial?  The means by which salvation is conferred?  A simple sign?  Those were the questions plaguing the Reformation beginning as early as 1522 and coming to a head in 1529 at the Marburg Colloquy.

In 1525 Huldrych Zwingli addressed the question in a quite scholarly volume titled Subsidium sive coronis de eucharistia and published on the 17th of August.

The story of Zwingli’s coming to a clear understanding, finally, of the meaning of the Eucharist is related by himself in this volume.  He remarks that Exodus 12 came to mind while he was lying in bed and that he sprang to his feet, opened his Septuagint (which he apparently kept right at his bedside) and read it.  The next day, they discussed it at the Prophezei and that discussion became the outline of the present book.

What, you may be wondering, has Ex 12 to do with the Eucharist?  Zwingli noted in explaining his discovery that just as the events of the Passover were ‘memorialized’ in the passover meal, so too the death of Jesus was ‘memorialized’ in the Supper.

The book opens, after the dedication, with this scintillating sentence (a sentence which is typical and emblematic of Zwingli’s style) –

reformers1.jpgScimus non defuturos esse, qui protinus, ut libri titulum intuiti sunt, ęqum esse dicant, ut copiis imbecillibus subsidium mittatur, quorum urbanitati respondere consilium non est, duplici nomine: Vel quod nunquam quicquam tam circumspecte dixeris, quod ipsi vertere in ludibrium non audeant; vel quod difficulter subsidio cedunt, in quos copię ipsę impressionem nullam facere potuerunt.

And the closing sentence:

Det deus optimus maximus lucem ac pacem, ut cognita veritate in veram animi pacem ac tranquillitatem restituamur. Amen!

And between those two bookends the – in my view – clearest exposition of the Supper written.

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Posted by on 17 Aug 2019 in Modern Culture, Zwingli


More on the Zwingli Helmet and Sword…

Which, you’ll remember, turned out to be complete fabrications from a post-Zwingli period.

Enjoy the read.

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Posted by on 15 Aug 2019 in Modern Culture, Zwingli


Zwingli’s Handwritten Copy of the Pauline Corpus

1172956You can take a look at it here.  You can even download the entire work.

Zwingli copied it from an edition of the Greek New Testament found in the library at Einsiedeln in 1517.  It includes some nifty marginal notes.

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Posted by on 14 Aug 2019 in Zwingli



Peter Opitz’s Bio of Zwingli is Now Available in French


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Posted by on 13 Aug 2019 in Modern Culture


The Zwinglis


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Posted by on 13 Aug 2019 in Zwingli


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Today With Zwingli

The disputation at Baden was the Old Church’s reply to the Zurich disputations of 1523. The conditions were exactly reversed. The friends of the Reformation packed the former, the opponents of it the latter. The immediate occasion of it was John Eck’s offer from Ingolstadt to the Swiss Diet at Baden, on August 13, 1524, to refute Zwingli’s heresies in a public disputation.

The challenge was communicated to Zwingli, and he replied to this on August 31st, in the insulting language he thought proper to use towards his Roman Catholic opponents1, offering to debate with Eck in Zurich. Eck replied very dignifiedly that he would meet Zwingli at Baden or Luzern, provided he had proper safe conduct.

He shows much better spirit than Zwingli2. The letter having been sent to the Zurich authorities, Zwingli replied that he would dispute in Zurich, and his reply appeared in print. And on the same day, November 6, 1524, the Great Council invited Eck to Zurich and sent him a safe conduct. But he declined to come, simply because the place for the proposed disputation was to be decided by the cantonal assembly and he would meet Zwingli there. On November 18th he replied at length to Zwingli’s latest attack.*

1Here’s the letter in question, which begins “En tibi, audacissime homo, repercussionem non hercle te, sed nobis dignam! Tu enim merebaris, ut, quicquid usquam est contumeliarum, scommatum, laedoriarum, in te iaceretur, nisi nos decuisset has artes tuas contemnere potius, quam pro dignitate referire. Nam quę porro est insania, ut te induci patiaris, ut ad Helvetios de nobis scribas tam impudenter tamque tum impure tum nequiter? An putas obscurum esse, quibus impulsoribus id feceris et in quem usum? Tune tam foeliciter unquam in hac arenade pugnasti, ut victor abieris? quamvis quid refert, etiam si victor abeas? An propterea veritas non est veritas, an verbum dei vim et ingenium suum mutabit, quod tu quemquam clamosa ista loquacitate tua obruas?”

2Jackson is being a bit anachronistic here. Methods of argumentation and debate were different in the 16th century and the people of that day should be judged by the standards of their time and not ours

*Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 270–271).

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Posted by on 13 Aug 2019 in Zwingli


#ICYMI – That Zwingli Statue at the Wasserkirche… Debunking a Lutheran Myth

The statue doesn’t represent the real Zwingli.  And those of you who continue to follow the ridiculous line begun by Luther that leads to the notion that Zwingli died with sword in hand need to read this article.  Forthwith.

«Dieses Denkmal von Philipp Natter sollte man eigentlich entfernen. Es erzählt viel mehr über das Entstehungsjahr 1885 und das 19. Jahrhundert als über Zwingli. Und es ist nicht unschuldig an der Distanz, die viele heute zu Zwingli haben. Das 19. Jahrhundert war die Zeit der grossen Helden, die man auf üppigen Monumenten mit riesigen Sockeln feierte. Man wollte diese Helden als politische Helden für die Zukunft präsentieren.

Das ist in die Schweiz übergeschwappt. Also nahm man eine Figur aus der Vergangenheit und inszenierte sie als politische Zukunftsgestalt. Dass man Zwingli vor allem als Machtpolitiker sah, sieht man am Schwert. Die Bibel hält er zwar schon auch noch, aber eher so nebenbei. Ich glaube, Zwingli fände dieses Denkmal gar nicht angebracht, und man hat Zwingli überhaupt nicht begriffen, wenn man ihn so darstellt. Er würde sich völlig missverstanden fühlen. Die Augenhöhe ging hier buchstäblich verloren.»

That’s the fact of the matter.  Read the whole.  And if you don’t want to do that, and get the facts, then at least stop talking about Zwingli’s death on the battlefield as combatant.  It just exposes your ignorance.

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Posted by on 12 Aug 2019 in Modern Culture, Zwingli


Starting Your Day With Zwingli

“The business of the truth is not to be deserted, even to the sacrifice of our lives. For we live not for this age of ours, nor for the princes, but for the Lord. … To have held fast to the purpose of the Lord is to conquer all adversaries.”– Huldrych Zwingli

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Posted by on 11 Aug 2019 in Zwingli


Zwingli on Life After Death

I believe that after this life, which is rather captivity and death than life, a glad and happy life will come to the saints or believers, and a gloomy and wretched one to the wicked or unbelievers, and that both will be unending. — Huldrych Zwingli

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Posted by on 11 Aug 2019 in Zwingli


Zwingli on Impious Rulers

What is the goal of the impious man but to do all things for gain or fame? — Huldrych Zwingli

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Posted by on 11 Aug 2019 in Zwingli


We Zwinglians and Our View of the Lord’s Supper Prevail

Take that, Luther!  HAHAHAHA

Zwingli wins.  We welcome our Catholic brothers and sisters to the Zwinglian fold.

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Posted by on 6 Aug 2019 in Theology


Today With Zwingli: A Letter to the City Council of Constance

Zwingli was in the habit of writing various Cities and Towns and urging them to adopt Reform.  His letter of 5 August, 1523, to Constance has the same aim, with the added bonus of persuading them to ignore the lies being spread abroad about him.  After the usual introductory pleasantries he remarks

Und hab für mine gnädigen herren burgermeister und ratt Zürich kert und gebetten, sy wellind üwer wysheit anwenden umm erfaren und erduren diser sach, welchs nit klein zuo der er gottes, üwer und unserer kilchen ruow und frid dienen wirt, als dann ire eignen brieff clarlich anzeigen werdend.

Hierumb ist an üwer wysheit min gar engstig ernstlich bitt, die welle sich nit laßen beduren, ob der handel einem glych träffenlich geachten nachsuochen wurde, und den ernstlich suochen und eriagen. Ja ich mein, das ich sölches anmuotens zuo üch recht hab; denn wir eines himelichen vatters, eines gloubens und touffes sind [Eph. 4. 5], welchs ein gnuog türe ursach ist, üch umm den handel ze gründen erfordren.

Ir sind Christen; so söllend ouch ir die er Christi redten, (verzych mir üwer wysheit, das ich so gheim mit dero reden gdar) und darumm nieman ansehen, glych als ouch ünser houpt Christus nit ansicht die personen, das ist ußerlichen schyn der menschen, und minen herren von Zürich alles, so hierinn sich befinndt, getrülich zuoschicken, damit die münd, die umbill und bosheit redend, verschloßen werdind. Ich wird ouch gwüsslich bericht, wie üwer wysheit in kurtz hinggangner zyt iiij ersame, wyse und des radts by üch menner für minen herren zuo Costentz geschickt von etlicher hendlen wegen; sye der minen ouch ze red worden und mich der schantlich erdachten red halb angeruert.

Don’t listen to what people say of me- read what I write myself.  That is his message to Constance.  It’s smart advice even now.  Don’t believe what you read ABOUT Zwingli until you’ve read Zwingli himself. Ad fontes!

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Posted by on 5 Aug 2019 in Modern Culture


Today With Zwingli: His Children

zwingliWilliam, Zwingli’s eldest son, born in 1526, after studying in Zurich went to Strassburg to complete his education, but there died of the plague in 1541. Ulrich, born January 6, 1528, who is said to have been the image of his father, studied at Basel, became a clergyman, diakonus in the Great Minster in Zurich in his nineteenth year, professor of Hebrew in 1556, of theology in 1557; he married Bullinger’s daughter Anna. She died of the plague in 1565. Regula, the eldest daughter, born in 1525, who is said to have been the image of her mother, married on August 3, 1541, when in her seventeenth year, Bullinger’s foster-son, Rudolf Gualther, a brilliant man, born in Zurich, November 9, 1519; studied at Basel, Strassburg, Lausanne, and Marburg, and in 1542 became pastor of St. Peter’s in Zurich, and so remained the rest of his life. In 1547 he brought out the first edition of Zwingli’s works, himself translating into Latin all the hitherto untranslated German treatises. He succeeded Bullinger in the office of chief city pastor in 1575. After Regula died of the plague (November 14, 1565), he married Anna, daughter of Thomas Blarer, formerly burgomaster of Constance, Gualther died December 25, 1586. With Zwingli’s son Ulrich the male line of the Reformer died out. Those at present tracing their ancestry to the Reformer’s family do so to a brother in Wildhaus. Zwingli had still a fourth child, a daughter Anna, born in 1530, who died in infancy.*

And that’s the Zwingli family.

*Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 360–361).

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Posted by on 3 Aug 2019 in Zwingli


Zwingli For Today

zwingliJesus gives peace to our consciences, which hitherto caused us to be in despair; yea, He draws us to Himself that we may implicitly trust in Him and thus are we saved. Since He is entirely free from all infirmities and temptations, for He was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of a pure and innocent virgin, He first offered up his innocence and righteousness in our stead; and having borne our burdens, pains, and diseases He thereby saved all those that firmly believe these things. For whoever accepts by faith this free gift, which is offered to the lost human race by God through Christ, is saved and henceforth becomes a joint heir with Christ; wherefore he also will be with the Father in eternal bliss, for He wills that his servants be where He is. — Huldrych Zwingli

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Posted by on 1 Aug 2019 in Modern Culture, Zwingli


Today With Zwingli: His Refutation of Catabaptist Tricks

In catabaptistarum strophas elenchus was published by Zwingli on 31 July, 1527 and was translated into English in the early 20th century by S.M. Jackson and published in a very lovely little edition which, fortunately, is now in the public domain and accessible here in pdf (Chapter 5).

You’ll enjoy it.  In fact, you’ll enjoy all of the books in the collection.

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Posted by on 31 Jul 2019 in Zwingli


Observing Signs, Wonder, Portents, And a Belief in Astrology: These are Things Melanchthon and Zwingli Had in Common

I think everyone knows that Melanchthon had a penchant for astrology.  Luther chided him about it regularly.  But he wasn’t alone in the 16th century in holding such views.  Zwingli too had an affinity for such things (though of a milder sort than Melanchthon).  This was especially the case in the dreadful atmosphere of mid Summer, 1531:

As the year wore on it was increasingly plain that war was inevitable, and Nature seemed to Zwingli to prophesy disaster. Zurich was again visited by the plague, though not in severe form. Like others of his time, Zwingli believed in signs and portents and had a lingering faith in astrology. So he was greatly disturbed at an extraordinary communication from Schenkenberg, near Brugg, in Aargau, some seventeen miles north by west of Zurich, written by the magistrate of the village and dated July 29, 1531, to the effect that on July 24th blood had been seen issuing in a stream from the earth!

Other equally circumstantial reports of uncommon physical phenomena were:

  • that at Zug, some fifteen miles south of Zurich, on Lake Zug, a shield had been seen in the air; on the river Reuss, which runs into Lake Zug, shots were heard at night;
  • on the Bruenig Pass, some twenty-five miles south of Luzern, flags flew in the heavens,
  • and on the Lake of Luzern phantom ships sailed filled with ghosts in warriors’ garb.
  • At Goostow, in the county of Gröningen, belonging to Zurich, a poor peasant woman, Beatrice of Marckelssheim, bore a child that had two heads with faces, three legs, and three arms, but only one body. Two of the arms hung from the sides as usual, but the third came out of the back between the shoulders, and had on the end two hands clasped. Two of the legs were also normal, but the third hung from behind for all the world like a tail! One of the heads died in the birth, the other lived a short time after it.

But still more alarming was the comet, of which Zwingli writes, on August 16th: “Some have seen a comet here in Zurich for three nights. I for one only, i. e., August 15th; what we shall see to-day, the 16th, I don’t know.” Bullinger thus relates the incident:

“Upon [St.] Lawrence [day, Thursday, August 10, 1531], appeared at sunset a right fearful comet whose long and broad tail stretched to mid heaven. The colour was pale yellow. And when Zwingli was asked what it meant by George Müller, abbot at Wittengen, as standing in the churchyard of the Great Minster, near the Wettinger House, they contemplated it together, he replied: ‘Dear George, it will cost me and many an honest man his life, and truth and Church will yet suffer; still Christ will not desert us.’ ”*

Doesn’t the baby of Goostow sound like Joel Watts? Anyway, I think it would be unfair of us to look down our noses at the notion that astrology is even remotely sensible. Their world was different than ours and the views held by its residents deserve to be judged on their terms not ours.
*Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 350–352).

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Posted by on 29 Jul 2019 in Church History, Zwingli


Bucer, Luther, Zwingli, and Translation Bias: Or, Be Careful Who Does Your Translation For You

bucerThe situation between Bucer and Wittenberg was further exacerbated by Bucer’s translation of Luther’s Church Postil. Before the theological differences between Bucer and Wittenberg had become manifest, Luther himself had requested, through the Strassburg publisher Johann Herwagen, that Bucer should undertake the translation of Luther’s Postil into Latin, especially for the use of Evangelicals in France and Italy.

Bucer’s translation was issued from Herwagen’s press in six volumes from 1525–27. Luther was well pleased with the first three volumes of the translation. Bucer’s translation of the fourth volume, however, which appeared on July 27, 1526, provoked a new crisis.

luther4At this point in the work, having become inclined to Zwingli’s views on the Lord’s Supper, Bucer had hesitated about how to continue. He felt obligated to the publisher, Herwagen, to complete the translation, and in general he found Luther’s teaching excellent, but he did not want to spread Luther’s views on the Lord’s Supper to the churches of France and Italy.

Despite another warning from Zwingli, and even though he knew the Wittenbergers were already angry about his interpolations in Bugenhagen’s work, Bucer proceeded to make his own additions to Luther’s text, offering his own opinions on the Supper, though this time clearly distinguished from Luther’s view. Bucer’s insertions took three forms: a preface “to the brethren in Italy”; notes on some of Luther’s statements in the postil sermons; and a letter to the reader giving an exegesis of 1 Cor. 9:24–10:5 (in opposition to Luther’s sermon on the Epistle for Septuagesima Sunday).

zwingli_opitzThe preface was especially irritating to Luther. On one hand, Bucer spoke of Luther as a great man, and on the other hand, he tried to discredit Luther as fallible and to spread his own views on the Lord’s Supper instead.*

It’s always best to get a sympathetic translator.  Otherwise…

*Open Letter to Johann Herwagen and Preface to the Fourth Volume of Martin Bucer’s Latin Translation of the Church Postil (LW Vol. 59, pp. 164–165).

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Posted by on 27 Jul 2019 in Zwingli


A Mural of Zwingli I Did Not Know Existed, In Stein

Stephen Eccher is with a group in Switzerland and in Stein he was shown this mural.  Two things:  I have never seen this mural anywhere and I was unaware that Zwingli had ever been to Stein to preach.  So I had to check and sure enough-

On the 12th of December Zwingli presided over a synod at Frauenfeld, in the canton of Thurgau, some twenty-two miles north-east of Zurich, at which were assembled not only the preachers of Thurgau but of St. Gall, Appenzell, and the Rhine valley, along with representatives of the congregations. In all there were some five hundred clergymen. The principal business of the synod apparently was to bring the clergy into line. Consequently those ministers who had been inclined to accept Anabaptism were either compelled to confess conversion to the orthodox view or else they were deposed on the ground of ignorance or deprived of their stipends. Other important business of the synod related to the reformation of the monasteries and the secularisation of their property. Zwingli on his way back went through Constance, preached there on the 19th of December, as he did later on at Stein and Diessenhofen, two towns on the Rhine fifteen and twenty miles respectively west of Constance. — Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531), Heroes of the Reformation (New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901), 294.

(photos by Stephen Eccher, and used with permission.  Please do not distribute without the photographer’s express permission)

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Posted by on 26 Jul 2019 in Church History, Zwingli


Zwingli’s Resignation: Rejected

Grossmunster, Zurich

The Grossmunster

It had been a nasty June and a worse July in Zurich in the year of our Lord, 1531.  The heat was oppressive and the populace was restless.  Zwingli’s reforms were well entrenched but there was an air of misgiving lingering in the air.  Something bad was afoot and Zwingli was already experiencing a bout of depression (though rare, they were profound and severe when they did occur).  The firmly Catholic Cantons were still refusing to ‘see the light’ and it was more than he could bear.

So when he appeared before the Council at the end of July he had tears in his eyes and told the Council that he was set and prepared to resign on the spot if they felt another could better serve the cause of Christ.  For 11 years he had preached the Gospel to the city and its environs and though sure it would triumph in every corner of the land, distressed that it had not yet.

Afterwards, a delegation of the most important leaders of the City persuaded him to withdraw his resignation.  None of them could know, of course, that Zwingli would be dead within 3 months and a week.  He wanted to resign and wasn’t allowed to.  Divine Providence had other plans for him.

Yet certainly any and every Pastor who has felt the sting of ministerial impotence knows exactly the sense which overwhelmed Zwingli.  We’ve all been overwhelmed that way and desired to resign rather than endure. But Divine Providence has other plans for us as well.

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Posted by on 26 Jul 2019 in Modern Culture, Zwingli