Category Archives: Bullinger

Fun Facts From Church History: Climate Change in Bullinger’s Zurich

Joe Mock writes

bullinger90There was a mini ice age in the middle of the 16th century. Bullinger wrote about it in his Diarium. The mini ice age was so severe that Bullinger considered that it was the judgment of God.

Otto Ulbricht has written “Extreme Wetterlagen im Diarium Heinrich Bullinger” which is to be found in Wolfgang Behringer, Hartman Lehmann dan Christian Pfister (eds), Kulurelle Konsequenzer der kleinen Eiszeit, pp 147-175.

The following is a citation from the summary of the article:

“When looking closely at Bullinger’s diary, it becomes clear that he not only sensed the climatic change beginning in the early 1560’s (coldness, frost, hail frozen over lakes, floods), but he also described it as unique and sometimes even as a breakdown of the natural order of things. Adjectives he applied to characterize these changes have strong (and negative) emotional connotations. The extreme weather conditions – sometimes joined by famine – became the most important expression of God’s wrath in his thinking, thus displacing war and pestilence as secondary.

According to Bullinger, the main reason for God’s scorn was heavy drinking. Therefore, he and his colleagues tried to extend mandates against it to leading and secular authorities in Zurich. Religious reasons also played a role in keeping interest rates down throughout the famine of 1570/71. During this crisis, there was a major change in the liturgy through the introduction of common public prayer.”

I like it.  Climate change isn’t caused by fossil fuels, it’s caused by boozers!  Thank you Heinrich!  Thanks, Joe.

UPDATE:  Christian Pfister’s essay from the book mentioned above is available here.

A Bit of Bullinger

Godly ministers and faithful pastors shall be vexed with all kinds of afflictions and persecutions. Yet the Scriptures nevertheless do witness evidently, that the ministry shall never be utterly oppressed, but that the ministers shall continually have the victory, yea, even when they are slain. For the Lord always gives ministers to his church, who, though they be tried as gold is in the fire, yet they overcome through him who has overcome the world and the prince of the world. — Heinrich Bullinger

Leben und ausgewählte Schriften der Väter und Begründer der reformierten Kirche (11 Bände)

This was posted on 26 December, 2014.  Four years ago to the day.  And still it has neither appeared nor has it progressed.  Perhaps someone at Logos knows why?

I’ve discovered that Logos has plans to offer the 11 volumes of the magnificent Leben und ausgewählte schriften. Nach handschriftlichen und gleichzeitigen quellen. You should bid on it  ($20 is a total deal).

In the meanwhile (because I doubt that I will live long enough to see the project reach fruition given the pace of the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew and my own Commentary), you can find some of the volumes for Google Play (free)(and I couldn’t locate the others- but I’ll keep looking).

Huldrych Zwingli
Myconius and Oecolampadius
Martin Bucer and Wolfgang Capito
Peter Martyr Vermigli
Heinrich Bullinger
Olevianus and Ursinis
John Knox

leben-und-ausgewahlte-schriften-der-vater-und-begrunder-der-reformierten-kircheThe Logos collection includes:

Heinrich Bullinger in the News

Heinrich Bullingers theologisches und religionspolitisches Wirken war unlösbar mit einem historisch orientierten Verständnis der Welt verknüpft. Bullinger war Nachfolger Zwinglis und Vordenker eines Protestantismus, der in seinem theologischen Kern bis in die Verfassung und politische Kultur moderner Staaten ausgriff. Er war aber auch zeit seines Lebens als Historiker tätig. Das Ergebnis der langjährigen Studien waren drei imposante Geschichtswerke zur Eidgenossenschaft, zur Reformation und zu Zürich. Nun liegt das dritte und letzte vollendete Werk, die Tigurinerchronik, erstmals ediert vor.

Die drei Chroniken greifen inhaltlich und argumentatorisch eng ineinander. Es gelang Bullinger zwar nicht, die eidgenössische Geschichte in eine abschliessende Form zu bringen, aber er konnte im Dezember 1574 die Reformationschronik und die Geschichte von Stadt und Landschaft Zürich, die «Chronik von den Tigurineren und der statt Zürych sachen», seinen «günstigen herren und fürgeliepten bruederen» des Chorherrenstifts zur Aufbewahrung übergeben, «daß sy nitt verloren / verdinset [entwendet] oder veruntrüwt / und undergetruckt werde».

Read the rest of Regula’s review of the three volume critical edition of Bullinger’s opus magnum.

Zwingli and Others on Harlots and Harlotry

Is it not a disgraceful thing to sleep with a woman and next morning hold mass? Answer: Can one not also do that if he has stayed with a harlot? If we had not conscience otherwise than that we so far forgetting God and ourselves should be inclined to such wickedness…  – H. Zwingli

I am now come to speak of adultery, which is a sin whereby the husband goeth to another woman, or the wife turneth aside after another man, to whom they make common the use of their bodies, which are not their own bodies now, but their mates in wedlock. Some there are that flatter themselves, and are of opinion, that they are not culpable of adultery, if they have the company of any unbetrothed maiden, or one that is unmarried; or if a woman play the harlot with an unwedded man: they will have it (in God’s name) to be fornication, and not adultery. But the scripture teacheth the contrary. Thou goest to another woman, thou art an adulterer: thou breakest thy faith, thou art forsworn: thy body is not thine, but thy wife’s; when therefore thou bestowest thy body on another, thou committest adultery. If thou, being wedded, dost lie with a married wife, thou doublest the sin of thine adultery. – H. Bullinger

… all know that no seed is so fertile in propagating mankind as the sacerdotal: for to such a degree has the untamed lust of almost all monks and popish priests burst forth, that he is justly deemed chastest who is satisfied with a harlot in his house. — J. Calvin

Never has a heathen, never a Turk, never a pope, never an emperor, and never any human being on earth made or enforced a law that anyone should be put to death because of marriage.  It is a new, unheard-of thing, begun by you new bishops, who are the greatest endowment robbers, harlot keepers, and whore hunters on earth in your chapters.  Nor do you do it for the sake of chastity, but all because others will not practice harlotry and unchastity, as you do, for you let them go unpunished. No one can believe that you conscientiously intend chastity with this penalty, since there are no greater enemies of chastity anywhere than you are, for you pursue it in your own bodies with all lewdness most shamefully, without letup. – M. Luther

Bullinger on the Notion of Transubstantiation

We do not acknowledge any transubstantiation to be made by force of words or characters; but we affirm, that the bread and wine remain as they are in their own substances, but that there is added unto them the institution, will, and word of Christ, and so become a sacrament, and so differ much from common bread and wine, as we have said in place convenient.


Now it is evident and plain, that after consecration there remaineth in the sacrament the substance of bread and wine; and herein we need no other witnesses than our very senses, which perceive, see, taste, and feel, no other thing than bread and wine.


Fun Facts From Church History: Bullinger and Denmark

783000Heinrich Bullinger was very interested in persuading the Danes that the Swiss Reformation was worth considering (rather than the Lutheran) and he wrote De gratia Dei justificante nos propter Christum per solam fidem absque operibus bonis, fide interim exuberante in opera bona, libri IV. ad sereniss. Daniæ regem Christianum to prove it.

It is such a well written book that none less than Philip Melanchthon thought very highly of it!

Nevertheless, the Danish Reformation, led by Hans Tausen, was and remained essentially Lutheran (which explains why Danes are not as Reformed as they should be…)

Tigurinerchronik (3 Volumes)

Die dreibändige Ausgabe macht erstmals das historiografische Hauptwerk Heinrich Bullingers (1504–1575), die sogenannte «Tigurinerchronik», zugänglich. Das Werk vermittelt die Sicht des engagierten und belesenen Zwinglinachfolgers, der darin die Geschichte Zürichs mit jener der Eidgenossenschaft und Europas verquickt und aufarbeitet. Die Darstellung, die sich von vorchristlicher Zeit bis zur Reformation erstreckt, ist heilsgeschichtlich angelegt und versteht die Entwicklung des Christentums und der Kirche als Ausbreitung der Wahrheit (Antike), deren Verschüttung (Mittelalter) und der Wiederentdeckung (Reformation). Dabei erhält die Stadt Zürich hohe Bedeutung und ihre Reform die endgültige Legitimation.

Mit der vorliegenden umfangreichen kritischen Edition – Bullingers eigenhändiges Manuskript umfasst rund 1800 Folioseiten – steht der Forschung nun diese wichtige Quelle des 16. Jahrhunderts zur Verfügung.

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:

  • Stiftsgeschichte
  • 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!

Fun Facts from Church History: Bullinger’s Thoughts on Servetus

bullingerDuring the trial of Servetus, Bullinger was kept informed of things by his friend Haller.  In a letter dated 27 September, 1553 Haller writes

Yesterday we received the documents in the case of Servetus, and have since been studying them in view of our reply. But we should like to know what your answer is before we send ours. We therefore entreat you immediately to inform us of its tenor. Yet wherefore so much ado! the man is a heretic, and the Church must get rid of him. Let me, however, I beseech you, speedily know the conclusion you have come to.

R. Willis remarks

The Zürich pastor would seem to have been the most active of all the ministers in collecting and imparting information of a kind that would lead to unanimity of conclusion among the Churches and Councils. His friend, Ambrose Blaurer, acknowledging receipt of a letter from him communicating the decision of Zürich, says that he ‘had thought the pestilent Servetus, whose book he had read twenty years ago, must long since have been dead and buried.’ But the … man must add further: ‘We are surely tried by heresies and satanic abortions of the sort, in order that they who are steadfast in the faith may be made known.’*

*R. Willis, Servetus and Calvin: a study of an important epoch in the early history of the reformation, p. 460.

Quote of the Day


Concerning the importance of Scripture study, Bullinger writes

There is I confess, some difficulty in the scriptures.  But that difficulty may easily be helped by study, diligence, faith, and the means of skillful interpreters. I know that the apostle Peter says in the epistles of Paul “many things are hard to be understood” but immediately he adds, “which the unlearned, and those that are imperfect, or unstable, pervert, as they do the other scriptures also, unto their own destruction.” Whereby we gather that the scripture is difficult or obscure to the unlearned, unskillful, unexercised, and malicious or corrupted wills, and not to the zealous and godly readers or hearers thereof.  – Heinrich Bullinger

What Sort of Undesirables Occupy the Ministry

I am ashamed and sorry to rehearse what a censure for reformation of manners remains in the church. The thing itself cries put, and experience witnesses that unworthy persons are not shut out from this holy ministry; for without difference all are admitted; and as yet whoremongers, drunkards, dice-players, and men defiled, yes, overwhelmed with divers heinous crimes, are allowed in the ministry. — Heinrich Bullinger

It’s worse now, Heinrich…  We have atheists in ministry…

A Bullinger Gallery

To mark his passing-

Not Every Expositor is of Equal Quality

bullinger2Heinrich Bullinger astutely remarked

There may be one that expoundeth very darkly, and another expoundeth more plainly: this man hitteth the mark, he comes not near it: and this man applieth the place which he handleth very fitly, some other useth not like simplicity of application: in the mean season, notwithstanding, he saith nothing contrary to the soundness of faith and the love of God and our neighbour, and useth all things to edification. I say, that of this diversity no man taketh just occasion to depart from the church. For all godly men prove all things, and keep that which is good; and in all sermons and holy exercises4 refer their whole study only unto edifying.

And moreover the preachers agree well among themselves, and hereunto direct all things, that both themselves and their hearers may become better; not that they may seem better learned, or to have uttered that which no man saw heretofore.

And the best learned loathe not their sermons which are not so learned: for albeit they may seem not altogether to have hit the mark, yet forasmuch as they have taught wholesome things, they are praised and not condemned; albeit in fit time and place they be somewhiles admonished.

A Bullinger Gallery In Remembrance of His Death


Heinrich Bullinger: On Aiding the Stranger

We must not only do good to them that are familiar with us, but to them also whom we did never see before, in keeping hospitality for wayfaring strangers, so far as our substance will stretch to maintain it. For if otherwise thy wealth be slender, as that it will do no more but maintain thine own house and family, no parcel of God’s law doth bind or bid thee to distribute to other men the wealth which thou thyself dost need as much or more than they.

It is sufficient for thee to provide that they of thine own household be not a burden to other men’s backs. So then the man, whose wealth is small, is not compelled to spend that little which he hath in doing honour or shewing courtesy to other men: it is enough for him to bear with a valiant heart his own hard hap, and to take heed that his poverty procure him not to offend against right and honesty.

What does Bullinger mean?  If you have the resources, help others.  If you don’t, be sure you maintain your family so as not to be a burden to others so that they can aid the truly needy.

Recent publications based on the work on the Bullinger correspondence by members of the editorial team

All the details are over at the IRG blog.  A lot of great stuff that needs to be read.

Heinrich Bullinger: on Invoking God

bullinger50That invocation therefore or calling upon God, whereof at this time we entreat, is a lifting up of man’s mind to God in great necessity or in some desire, and a most ardent craving of counsel and assistance by faith; and also a bequeathing or committing of ourselves into the protection of God, and as it were a betaking of ourselves to his sanctuary and only safeguard. In invocation therefore (true invocation, I mean) a faithful mind is first of all required, which doth acknowledge God to be the author and only giver of all good gifts; who is willing to hear them that call upon him, and is able to grant us all our requests and desires whatsoever. An incessant and ardent petition or beseeching is also required. But of these points more shall be said, when God shall give us leave, in our sermon of the prayer of the faithful; for invocation is a kind of prayer. — Heinrich Bullinger

Today With Bullinger

In Sacrosanctum Jesu Christi Domini nostri Evangelium secundum Matthæum Commentariorum libri XII. fol. Tig. 1542, was translated by Frisius into German, with the title, “The Hope of the Faithful,” and published August 18, 1544.

The preface to the volume is lovely. Really lovely.


The Reticence of the Editors of Luther’s Works in English to Publish his Book on the Jews

In the preface, the editors of the American Edition of Luther’s works write

The fact that Luther, during the last years of his life, wrote treatises harshly condemnatory of the Jews and Judaism is rather widely known. The treatises themselves, however, have not previously been available in English. The publication here of the longest and most infamous of them, On the Jews and Their Lies, will no doubt prove dismaying to many readers, not only because it shows Luther at his least attractive, but also because of the potential misuse of this material. The risk to Luther’s reputation is gladly borne, since the exposure of a broader range of his writings to modern critical judgment is an inherent purpose of this American edition. However, the thought of possible misuse of this material, to the detriment either of the Jewish people or of Jewish-Christian relations today, has occasioned great misgivings. Both editor and publisher, therefore, wish to make clear at the very outset that publication of this treatise is being undertaken only to make available the necessary documents for scholarly study of this aspect of Luther’s thought, which has played so fateful a role in the development of anti-Semitism in Western culture. Such publication is in no way intended as an endorsement of the distorted views of Jewish faith and practice or the defamation of the Jewish people which this treatise contains.*

Luther’s book doesn’t just make us squirm today, it was also viewed negatively in Luther’s own day, among his own supporters!

Already upon its first appearance in the year 1543, Luther’s treatise caused widespread dismay, not only among contemporary Jews but also in Protestant circles. Melanchthon and Osiander are known to have been unhappy with its severity. Henry Bullinger, in correspondence with Martin Bucer, remarked that Luther’s views reminded him of those of the Inquisitors. And a subsequent document prepared by the churches of Zurich declared (speaking specifically of the treatise Vom Schem Hamphoras, published later in 1543), that “if it had been written by a swineherd, rather than by a celebrated shepherd of souls, it might have some—but very little—justification.”*   [The Zurich document is cited in WA 53, 574. For the views of Melanchthon, Osiander, Bullinger, and other Reformers, see Lewin, Luthers Stellung zu den Juden (cited above, p. 96, n. 35), pp. 97 ff.]


(WA 53,574)

*Luther’s works, vol. 47: The Christian in Society IV.

Fun Facts from Bullinger’s Reformationsgeschichte

While a student in Basel, Huldrych Zwingli learned to play a number of musical instruments, but he came to a special mastery of the lute.