Category Archives: Church History

Fun Facts from Church History: There Was Only One Greek Grammar Available in the Early 16th Century



Greek study in Western Europe was then [i.e., in the early 16th century] in its infancy. Teachers were scarce and text-books were scarcer still. The only Greek grammar in use in the West was that by Emanuel Chrysoloras (b. at Constantinople 1355; d. at Constance 1415), which was known as the Erotemata, the Greek title meaning “the interrogatives,” and was first printed in Venice in 1484, and frequently afterwards in different places.

Zwingli calls it the “Introduction” (Isagogen) of Chrysoloras; and as Glareanus speaks of an “Isagogen” which he had undertaken to translate, but had to lay aside from ill health, it is likely that he refers to the same book.

Zwingli asked Vadianus what he (Zwingli) should take up after he had finished it. Glarean, writing from Basel on October 24, 1516, says: “I do not know whether you have a Greek dictionary or not. If you need one write to me and I will see that it is sent you at once”. The lexicon Zwingli used was that of Suidas (Milan, 1499), and on the first page of his copy he wrote in Greek: Εἰμὶ τοῦ Ζυγγλίου καὶ τὸν κυριον μηδαμῶς καταλλάξω εἰ μὴ θατέρου ἀποθανόντος” Cf. Usteri, Initia Zwinglii (“Studien u. Kritiken,” 1885, 621). The book was in the Zwingli exhibition at Zurich, Jan. 4–13, 1884.*

*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).


periPerichoresis 14.3 (2016), an issue which anticipates the celebration of 500 years since the Reformation and was made possible by Wim Janse, dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Free University of Amsterdam (Netherlands).

Edited by two exceptional scholars from the Faculty of Theology within the Free University of Amsterdam (Gijsbert van den Brink, professor of theology and science, and Aza Goudriaan, associate professor of historical theology), this superb issue includes contributions from

  • Richard A. Muller, P. J. Zondervan professor emeritus of historical theology at Calvin Theological Seminary (USA),
  • Andreas J. Beck, professor of historical theology and dean of Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven (Belgium),
  • Randall J. Pederson, managing editor of Westminster Theological Journal (USA),
  • John V. Fesko, professor of systematic and historical theology and academic dean of Westminster Seminary California (USA),
  • Dolf te Velde, associated professor of systematic theology at Kampen Theological University (Netherlands),
  • and the two editors themselves.

An avant-première of 2017 world-wide celebrations of the Reformation, this issue deals with “Contemporary Perspectives on Reformed Theology. Reformed Confessions, Scholastic Thought, and Puritan Divinity in Post-Reformation Protestantism” and is published jointly by Emanuel University Press, De Gruyter Open, and Refo500.

The online version of Perichoresis 14.3 (2016) can be found on De Gruyter’s official website:

All Things Made New: The Reformation and its Legacy

All Things Made New: The Reformation and its Legacy.

9780190616816The most profound characteristic of Western Europe in the Middle Ages was its cultural and religious unity, a unity secured by a common alignment with the Pope in Rome, and a common language – Latin – for worship and scholarship. The Reformation shattered that unity, and the consequences are still with us today. In All Things Made New, Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of the New York Times bestseller Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, examines not only the Reformation’s impact across Europe, but also the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the special evolution of religion in England, revealing how one of the most turbulent, bloody, and transformational events in Western history has shaped modern society.

The Reformation may have launched a social revolution, MacCulloch argues, but it was not caused by social and economic forces, or even by a secular idea like nationalism; it sprang from a big idea about death, salvation, and the afterlife. This idea – that salvation was entirely in God’s hands and there was nothing humans could do to alter his decision – ended the Catholic Church’s monopoly in Europe and altered the trajectory of the entire future of the West.

By turns passionate, funny, meditative, and subversive, All Things Made New takes readers onto fascinating new ground, exploring the original conflicts of the Reformation and cutting through prejudices that continue to distort popular conceptions of a religious divide still with us after five centuries. This monumental work, from one of the most distinguished scholars of Christianity writing today, explores the ways in which historians have told the tale of the Reformation, why their interpretations have changed so dramatically over time, and ultimately, how the contested legacy of this revolution continues to impact the world today.

The nice folk at Oxford Uni Press have sent a gratis review copy without any expectation of a positive or uplifting review.  For which I thank them.  I’ve read the work and I’ll post my review early next week.  But in a word, wow!

Lived Religion and the Long Reformation in Northern Europe c. 1300–1700

New at Brill- for you Church History peeps-

18265Lived Religion and the Long Reformation in Northern Europe puts Reformation in a daily life context using lived religion as a conceptual and methodological tool: exploring how people “lived out” their religion in their mundane toils and how religion created a performative space for them. This collection reinvestigates the character of the Reformation in an area that later became the heartlands of Lutheranism. The way people lived their religion was intricately linked with questions of the value of individual experience, communal cohesion and interaction. During the late Middle Ages and Early Modern Era religious certainty was replaced by the experience of doubt and hesitation. Negotiations on and between various social levels manifest the needs, aspirations and resistance behind the religious change.

Contributors include: Kaarlo Arffman, Jussi Hanska, Miia Ijäs, Sari Katajala-Peltomaa, Jenni Kuuliala, Marko Lamberg, Jason Lavery, Maija Ojala, Päivi Räisänen-Schröder, Raisa Maria Toivo

Brief Thoughts on the Irish Reformation

Here’s a topic you don’t often hear discussed-

Today in Luther’s Life

1520lutherOur Saxon friends write

Am 19. Oktober 1512 werden Martin Luther als Zeichen seiner neu erworbenen Doktorwürde Doktorhut und Ring überreicht. Er ist nun Doktor der Theologie.

And then

Nur Tage später (on the 20th of October, 1512) tritt er an der Wittenberger Universität eine Professur für Bibelauslegung an, die er sein Leben lang behält.

A more significant Professor of Biblical Studies there has never been.

This Week’s ‘Refo Thursday’ Essay

This week’s is a reflection about Luther’s famously uttered “Here I stand…”.

Whether or not he actually said “here I stand,” his actions that day spoke for him. It is impossible to imagine the last five centuries of sacred or secular history without his trembling but defiant determination to stand with God’s Word when it taught truths that a corrupt church had mislaid or mangled. And that is why we are undertaking this series.

Give it a look.