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More Melanchthon

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I’m a big fan of this portrayal of Luther and Melanchthon and others working on the translation of the Bible (Melanchthon has the little ‘b’ above his head- on our right facing us)


Darstellung der Bibelübersetzung (von Johann Martin Bernigeroth) mit Luther und Rörer aus einer Bibel, die 1741 in Züllichau erschien.


Erste Seite des Bandes der Mitschriften der Vorlesung Philipp Melanchthons über den Römerbrief (1548-1550), ThULB Jena, Ms. Bos. q. 24 h


Doppelseite aus Rörers Mitschrift der Römerbriefvorlesung Melanchthons von 1548-1550 (ThULB Jena , Ms. Bos. q. 24 h)

Written by Jim

16 Feb 2018 at 6:40 pm

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Still More From our Saxon Friends on Melanchthon…

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And a portrait of him I had never seen before:

Heute vor 520 Jahren, am 16. Februar 1497, wurde Philipp Melanchthon geboren.  Humanist, Reformator, Praeceptor Germaniae („Lehrer Deutschlands“), Außenminister der Reformation, Vater der Ökumene – mit all diesen Titeln wurde Melanchthon im Laufe der Zeit bedacht.   Er wirkte wie Martin Luther als Professor an der Wittenberger Universität und wurde dessen wichtigster Wegbegleiter.   Melanchthonhaus WIttenberg –


Abb.: Reformatorengespräch, Adolf Schlabitz, nach 18999 (Detail Phlipp Melanchthon)

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16 Feb 2018 at 12:00 pm

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Melanchthon on his Deathbed

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Because it’s important to remember that even the greatest don’t live forever, or work forever.

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16 Feb 2018 at 11:46 am

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Heinrich Schmid: On Melanchthon

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PHILIP MELANCHTHON, or MELANTHON (often incorrectly spelled Melancthon), born 1497; professor at Wittenberg, 1518 to his death, 1560. The foundation of Lutheran Systematic Theology was laid in his Loci Communes Rerum Theologicarum seu Hypotyposes Theologicæ (1521), which had its origin in a brief outline prepared for his own private use, and afterwards dictated to his students as an introduction to his lectures on the epistle to the Romans.

During the author’s life it passed through eighty editions, was greatly enlarged, and on certain points, as, for example, the Freedom of the Will, its doctrine was materially changed. For details, the English reader is referred to the article MELANCHTHON, prepared by the author of this sketch, in McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, vol. vi.

The collection of Melanchthon’s works in the Corpus Reformatorum affords the student the best facility for the critical study of Melanchthon’s theology. It contains a reprint of each of the principal editions, as well as of several translations of the Loci.  — Heinrich Schmid

Written by Jim

16 Feb 2018 at 10:44 am

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Melanchthon: on Sin

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“God is not the cause of sin, nor is sin a thing contrived or ordained by him, but it is a horrible destruction of the divine work and order.”  — Philipp Melanchthon

Written by Jim

16 Feb 2018 at 10:40 am

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Melanchthon: On Revelation

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“The Church acknowledges God as such an eternal and omnipotent Creator as he has revealed himself to be, and, although we cannot thoroughly understand these mysteries, yet in this life, God wishes this our knowledge and worship of him to be begun and to be distinguished from that which is false: and in his Word he has propounded, by infallible testimonies, a revelation, in which we, as the unborn infant in the maternal womb, drawing nutriment from the umbilical vessels, might sit enclosed and draw the knowledge of God and life from the Word of God, in order to worship him as he has made himself known.” – Philipp Melanchthon

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16 Feb 2018 at 10:38 am

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A Melanchthon Gallery For Melanchthon’s Birthday

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16 Feb 2018 at 10:32 am

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Melanchthon’s Birthday: Read Him

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16 Feb 2018 at 9:31 am

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Happy Birthday Melanchthon

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Our Saxon friends write

Aside from Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon is considered Germany’s most important Protestant reformer. Even as a child, he impressed others through his extraordinary aptitude for ancient languages. His mentor, Johannes Reuchlin, recognised this talent in 1509 by translating Philipp’s last name, ‘Schwarzerdt’ (literally ‘black earth’), into the Greek ‘Melanchthon’.

Over the years, he became one of Luther’s trusted collaborators in the cause of the Reformation. Together they composed countless Protestant treatises, developed educational and liturgical regulations, and worked on the translation of the Bible. Accordingly, Melanchthon also accompanied the Saxon electors to the decisive imperial diets (‘Reichstage’) in Speyer (1529) and in Augsburg (1530). He composed the most important Protestant confession, the Augsburg Confession, while in that city.

Bildnachweis: Portrait of Philipp Melanchthon, 1537, by Lucas Cranach the Elder. / Melanchthon’s House in Wittenberg / Melanchthon’s Room in Wittenberg

PM is my favorite Lutheran.

Written by Jim

16 Feb 2018 at 6:31 am

Academia Needs More Professors Endowed With the Spirit of Melanchthon

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mel30Towards the end of his life, on the 29th of October, 1556 Philip wrote to John Gigas

Truly I can affirm in my conscience that, since God has called me to this labor of teaching, I have taken great care to search for simple explanations and to avoid those labyrinths in which others show off their talent.

May his tribe increase.

Written by Jim

4 Feb 2018 at 1:58 pm

Philipp Melanchthon: Der Reformator zwischen Glauben und Wissen. Ein Handbuch

This newly published work arrived in August for review from DeGruyter:

Written by a team of internationally renowned scholars, this newly conceived handbook provides a reliable introduction to the life, work, and impact of Philipp Melanchthon. It presents the latest research on Melanchthon’s role in Reformation history, but beyond this, reveals his importance in intellectual history as a universal scholar of the 16th century.

The publisher, first of all, has provided the TOC here.  Consequently, I won’t duplicate that material at this place.  Readers are encouraged to take a look before moving forward with this review.

A work as massive as this, containing all of the information which it does, is difficult to summarize in a short space.  Nonetheless, it’s worth the effort:  The volume at hand is a complete guide to Melanchthon’s life, work, theology, relationships, influences, and reception.  And the use of the word ‘complete’ is no exaggeration for effect.  Literally every aspect of Melanchthon-studies is included.  No stone is left unturned in the editor’s quest to give students of Melanchthon everything they need to know under one cover.

Naturally, not everything that can be said is said.  Instead, the volume is the perfect starting point for those wishing to examine, and understand, every aspect and corner and stone in studies of the greatest of the German Reformers (in truth, Philipp was even greater than Luther).

The philosophical section of the volume is outside my wheelhouse and I confess to being less interested in it than I was in other parts.  Indeed, the most engaging portions have to do, for me, with Melanchthon’s life and theology.  Secondly, I found the Reception of Melanchthon in other European lands to be particularly engaging precisely because how those outside Germany viewed him is such an interesting topic.  Thirdly, the section which discusses the various genres of Philipp’s works was also incredibly engaging.  The man was a true genius, interested in and contributing to so many fields of knowledge.

Indeed, the overarching ‘take-away’ from this important work is the fact that here Melanchthon is shown to be so much more than simply the sidekick of Martin Luther and the chap who helped him translate the New Testament because he was better at Greek than Luther was himself.  This tome is a wonderful instruction manual in Melanchthon-onia.

A few, a very few of the highlights of this collection of essays are (in order to provide potential readers with a sampling of the work):

Melanchthon hingegen gewann keinen sonderlich positiven Eindruck von Zwingli und bezweifelte, ob dieser überhaupt ein Christ sei (Scheible 1997a, 107). Sokames zu keinen weiteren direkten Begegnungen und Briefen zwischen den beiden Reformatoren mehr, doch herrschte in Zürich auch nach dem Zwinglis Tod im Jahr 1531 Melanchthon gegenüber eine freundliche Grundstimmung. Denn Melanchthon galt für Zwinglis Nachfolger als Vorsteher der Zürcher Kirche, Heinrich Bullinger, als große theologische und kirchenpolitische Autorität. Bekannt ist, dass der junge Student Bullinger, als er sich 1521/22 der Reformation zuwandte (Egli 1904, 6.14–15), stark von Melanchthons Loci communes beeindruckt gewesen war. Nach seiner Rückkehr in die Eidgenossenschaft hielt er zwischen 1523 und 1529 in Kappel Vorlesungen über Werke Melanchthons und verfasste einen – nicht erhaltenen – Kommentar zu zwei seiner Loci (Egli 1904, 8.11.13).


Melanchthon war persönlich anwesend auf den Reichstagen in Speyer 1529, Augsburg 1530 sowie Regensburg 1541. Von reichspolitischer Relevanz war außerdem seine Teilnahme anmehreren Reichsreligionsgesprächen, insbesondere den Verhandlungen zwischen Theologen und Kirchenpolitikern in Worms 1540/41 und Regensburg 1541, die zeitgleich mit dem Reichstag stattfanden. Zum Reichsreligionsgespräch in Regensburg im Jahr 1546 wurde Melanchthon nicht abgesandt; nach den Regensburger Erfahrungen fünf Jahre zuvor war er auch froh darüber, sich nicht an diesen Wortspaltereien beteiligen zu müssen (MBW 4140: „Sed illas conventuum σκιομαχίας non amo.“, MBW.T 15, 79,7– 8). Das letzte Reichsreligionsgespräch, an dem Melanchthon persönlich beteiligt war, fand 1557 in Worms statt.

And there are, as well, brilliant illustrations, including this one in the chapter discussing images of Melanchthon through the years-


Robert Boissard, Bildnis Philipp Melanchthon, aus: Jean Jacques Boissard, Icones quinquaginta virorum illustrium, Frankfurt a. M. 1597–99, Radierung/Kupferstich , 13,7 × 10,6 cm, Melanchthonhaus Bretten.

Melancthon was the most influential German of the 16th century.  It’s true, Luther is better known.  But once one learns what Melanchthon accomplished one swiftly discovers that Luther’s influence was narrowly framed (in theological and linguistic circles) whereas Melanchthon’s work touches every corner of academic inquiry.

This volume is as heartily recommended as I can manage.  do read it.

Written by Jim

1 Jan 2018 at 11:11 am

December 8, 1532

Luther and Melanchthon never saw eye to eye on the subject of astrology. At the table on 8 December, 1532, Luther remarked

Astrology is not a science because it has no principles and proofs. On the contrary, astrologers judge everything by the outcome and by individual cases and say, ‘This happened once and twice, and therefore it will always happen so.’ They base their judgment on the results that suit them and prudently don’t talk about those that don’t suit.

My Philip has devoted much attention to this business, but he has never been able to persuade me to accept it, for he himself confesses, ‘There is science in it, but nobody has mastered it, for astrologers have neither principles nor knowledge gained from experience, unless they wish to call something that happens experience.’ But knowledge gained from experience is derived by induction from many individual instances, as in the case of this fire: this fire burns, therefore all fire burns. Astrology doesn’t have such knowledge but judges only on the basis of uncertain events.*

I’ve never understood Melanchthon’s attitude towards the nonsense of astrology.  He was too smart for such craziness.   I guess no one is perfect.

*Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 54; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 173.

Written by Jim

8 Dec 2017 at 5:40 am

Today With Melanchthon


Our Saxon friends remind us (their translation)

To improve Melanchthon’s life circumstances, but also to keep him in Wittenberg, Luther was looking for Melanchthon in 1520 a woman. This idea, however, Melanchthon was not very impressed. The young workaholic professor feared for the progress of his studies. However, it succeeded Luther that he definitively on November 27, 1520 Catherine married the daughter of a cloth merchant and mayor of Wittenberg Hans Krapp.

Although his wife was from a reputable home and Melanchthon earned as a professor at the University well, there was in the house of Melanchthon never greater prosperity. Constant visits by university members who gathered at disputing table rounds in the house of Melanchthon, young students who Melanchthon in his ” scholastic domestica ” taught as a personal mentor and provided, reduced the financial budget of the household.

Melanchthon gained through his work in Wittenberg soon such high regard that offers from other universities in Germany and Europe were presented to him. However, Johann Friedrich I. (Saxony ) wanted to keep the esteemed professor at Wittenberg, and erected on the property his booth 1536 befitting house, which is known as Melanchthon’s house in Wittenberg today. When the family moved into this house in 1537, the couple had children Anna ( born August 24, 1522 † February 27, 1547 ), Philip ( born February 21, 1525 † October 3, 1605 in Wittenberg ), Georg (* November 25, 1527 in Wittenberg, † 1529) and Magdalena (* July 19, 1531; † September 12, 1576 ). As head of the family, he devoted himself with devotion to his beloved children and caring for the children welded together, the couple Melanchthon.

Written by Jim

28 Nov 2017 at 8:07 am

The Day the Melanchthons Married

melanchthonPhilipp Melanchthon married Katharina Krapp on November 27, 1520.

Apparently, Philipp had decided that his work and studies were to be his bride. For years he resisted the urgings of his friends for him to marry for fear that his studies would suffer. His friends, including Martin Luther, strongly disagreed. They even went so far as to choose a bride for him.

In some ways we know very little about Philipp Melanchthon’s wife, Katharina. She was the daughter of Wittenberg’s highly esteemed mayor and tailor Hans Krapp. She and Philipp spent the next 37 years in what was reported to be a very happy marriage. Together they had four children, Anna, Philipp, Georg, and Magdalene. The Melanchthon and Luther children spent much time playing together since their homes were next door to each other.

Katharina was a strong support to her husband. She stood by him when his friends condemned him for his doctrinal weakness. She also nursed him during his physically weak times. In short, Philipp’s marriage to Katharina did for him just the opposite of what he feared. Instead of it tearing him down, it sustained and strengthened him.

Despite all that they had in common, Katharina Melanchthon and Katie Luther never became close friends. But they did share these traits – they were hard workers who had deep love, respect, and support for their respective husbands.

Katharina Melanchthon died in 1557 while her husband was in Heidelberg furthering the cause of the Reformation.

No pictures of Katharina Melanchthon seem to exist today. This picture of Philipp is from 1532, is attributed to Lucas Cranach the Elder and is in the public domain.

-Rebecca DeGarmeaux (on Facebook)

Written by Jim

27 Nov 2017 at 4:53 am

#ICYMI- Karl Barth Wasn’t Always A Very Careful Thinker

For instance, he completely missed the meaning of Melanchthon’s “hoc est Christum cognoscere beneficia eius cognoscere”.


The only way Barth could assert what he asserted is if he wasn’t a clear thinker or understanding reader.  But Barth was not always a clear thinker.

Written by Jim

26 Nov 2017 at 7:34 am

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Melanchthon Edition

Handbuch und Melanchthons Rhetorik
Buchvorstellungen mit Prof. Günter Frank am Donnerstag, 7. Dezember, 19:30 Uhr im Melanchthonhaus Bretten

Gleich zwei herausragende Neuerscheinungen zu Philipp Melanchthon werden am Donnerstag, 7. Dezember, um 19.30 Uhr im Melanchthonhaus Bretten vorgestellt. Zum einen handelt es sich um ein Handbuch zu Leben und Werk Philipp Melanchthons mit dem Titel „Der Reformator zwischen Glauben und Wissen“, das vom Direktor der Europäischen Melanchthon-Akademie, Prof. Dr. Günter Frank, herausgegeben wird. Zum anderen ist der erste Band der Werkausgabe mit den Schriften zur Rhetorik erschienen, ein umfangreiches Projekt, an dem die Europäische Melanchthon-Akademie federführend beteiligt ist. Prof. Frank wird eine Einführung in beide Veröffentlichungen geben. Die Veranstaltung wird vom Klarinettenensemble der Jugendmusikschule begleitet.

Frank, Günter (Hg.) u. Mitarb .v. Axel Lange
Philipp Melanchthon
Der Reformator zwischen Glauben und Wissen. Ein Handbuch
Verlag De Gruyter, Berlin 2017
ISBBN 978-3-11-033580-4
€ 149.95

Das neu konzipierte Handbuch, das im Verlag De Gruyter erschienen ist, gibt verlässliche Orientierung über Leben, Werk und Wirkung Philipp Melanchthons aus der Hand eines Teams von international anerkannten Wissenschaftlern. Herausgeber des Werkes ist der Direktor der Europäischen Melanchthon-Akademie Bretten, Prof. Dr. Günter Frank. Er wurde bei der Veröffentlichung von Dr. Axel Lange unterstützt. Hier wird der aktuelle Forschungsstand präsentiert, der in den letzten Jahrzehnten nicht nur in der Reformationsgeschichte, sondern auch in der allgemeinen Wissenschaftsgeschichte Melanchthon als einen universalen Gelehrtes des 16. Jahrhunderts herausstellt. Ein unerlässliches Handbuch für alle, die sich für die Gestalt und das Wirken Melanchthon interessieren.

Melanchthon, Philipp
Philipp Melanchthon: Opera Omnia
Opera Philosophica 2.2 Principal Writings on Rhetoric
Ed. by Weaver, William P. / Strohm, Stefan / Wels, Volkhard
ISBN 978-3-11-056119-7
129,95 €

Der erste Band der Werkausgabe vereint erstmals in einer kritischen Ausgabe Melanchthons drei Hauptschriften zur Rhetorik. Diese Schriften waren für die Veränderung der Geisteswissenschaften und für die Entwicklung der protestantischen Hermeneutik, dem Predigen und dem Unterrichten im Zeitalter der Reformation und der Renaissance, von entscheidender Bedeutung. Der Band enthält die ersten kritischen Ausgaben von zwei dieser Schriften und eine revidierte kritische Ausgabe der dritten.

Written by Jim

23 Nov 2017 at 8:03 am

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Philipp Melanchthon in 100 persönlichen Briefen

Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560) had been a colleague and close collaborator of Martin Luther’s in Wittenberg for 28 years. 100 selected letters in chronological order illuminate important events from his life. Most of them now appear in German translation for the first time. Melanchthon’s manifold scientific interests, his reformatory and pedagogical work express themselves in those letters, as especially private aspects such as friendships, emotions, hopes and dreams do, too. This allows deep insight into everyday life during the Reformation in Germany and direct access to his life.

My review of this exceptionally enjoyable book will post tomorrow.

Im Jubiläumsjahr 2017 eine Auswahl von Melanchthons Briefen in deutscher Übersetzung vorzulegen, ist ein doppeltes Statement: 1. Ohne Philipp Melanchthon bleibt jedes Reformationsgedenken und -narrativ unvollständig. Und 2.: Der beste Gewährsmann für MelanchthonsWirken istMelanchthon selbst. Aus den rund 9.750 noch erhaltenen Texten seines Briefwechsels eine Auswahl von 100 Briefen zu treffen, ist allerdings ein schwieriges Unterfangen, das einem viel Mut zur Lücke abverlangt. Der Kreis der hierbei ausgewählten Adressaten umfasst Könige und Fürsten, Humanisten und Reformatoren, Familienangehörige und Freunde, Kollegen, Studenten und Schüler sowie deren Väter und Mütter. In wenigen (sechs) Fällen wurden auch Gegenbriefe aufgenommen, so dass an diesen Stellen der dialogische Charakter der Textgattung Brief jeweils sehr deutlich zum Ausdruck kommt.

This fine little collection of letters, with their thorough documentation and helpful notations, is a quite healthy reminder of the significance of someone besides Luther and the contributions others besides Luther have made to the progress of Christianity in the 16th century.  What Melanchthon writes in these letters is revealing of the inner workings of the chief actors of that historical drama.

Take, for instance, this brief passage, from him to Henry VIII of England in London, from Frankfurt/Main, 26. March, 1539:

Obwohl Deine Hoheit dieses Wohlwollen bereits früher deutlich zum Ausdruck gebracht hat, habe ich mich trotzdem gefreut, dass mir Deine überaus freundlichen Äußerungen von demjenigen überbracht wurden, den ich als mein zweites Ich betrachte.Weil Du unseren Arbeiten wohlgesonnen bist, empfehle ich mich Deiner Hoheit ehrerbietig.

Or this one- to Paul Eber in 1547:

Obwohl ich mir die Trostgründe, die zur Linderung der Trauer überliefert werden, vor Augen halte, quält es mich unglaublich, wenn ich an die Tränen meiner Tochter denke, als sie nach uns gefragt wurde. Dieses Schweigen und ihre Tränen haben meine Seele unheilbar verwundet. Aber schlimmer als dieser private Schmerz ist der öffentliche. Bucer schrieb einen reichlich kühlen Brief. Er hofft auf Frieden und eine unversehrte Stadt. Uns erschüttert die Sorge um „das ganze Staatsschiff“, wie es einst hieß. Wir wollen zu Gott beten, dass er „im Zorn seiner Barmherzigkeit gedenkt“ und das private wie das öffentliche unglück mildert. Ich schickeDir ein Blatt mit Trostgründen, das ich verfasst habe.

These and many others show readers the web of connections between the well known and the unknown.  This volume is important precisely because it shows us behind the scenes into the true inner workings of the minds of Melanchthon and his contemporaries.  It’s one thing to read a formal work like the commentary to Romans or the Loci and quite another to read personal letters never intended for wide public consumption.  We learn more from letters, oftentimes, than we do from formal treatises.

Those, then, interested in learning about Melanchthon should do themselves the favor of obtaining and absorbing this very handy collection of thoughtful and provocative lines from Philipp’s pen.

Written by Jim

15 Nov 2017 at 5:06 am

Melanchthon and Bucer: On the Jews

Disputation zwischen christlichen und jüdischen Gelehrten. Holzschnitt von Johann von Armssheim (1483).

Die vorliegende Untersuchung über das Verhältnis der beiden Reformatoren Bucer und Melanchthon zum Judentum impliziert die Frage, ob ”aus dem oberdeutsch-schweizerischen Ansatz der Bundeseinheit und der Wittenberger Gegenüberstellung von Gesetz und Evangelium eine je spezifische Haltung gegenüber dem Judentum abzuleiten” sei. Detmers zeigt anhand von theologischen Texten und politischem Urteilen des Mitarbeiter Luthers in Wittenberg und des Reformators in Straßburg, dass theologisch-exegetische Erkenntnisse, die eine Toleranz gegenüber Juden hätten begründen können, in der Reformationszeit von antijüdischen Vorurteilen überlagert wurden.

Read Achim Detmers scintillating essay here.

Written by Jim

11 Nov 2017 at 10:35 am

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Marburg, Day One

The following record of the exchange of the first day is from Simpson’s volume on Zwingli’s life. Day One shows that days 2 and 3 were pointless. Luther was incapable of understanding anyone but himself. It was his greatest weakness.

lutherLuther opened the discussion, and in a long speech protested that he differed from his opponents on the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, and furthermore, would always differ, since Christ clearly says, “Take, eat: this is my body.” “They must prove,” said he, “that a body is not a body.” He maintained that there could be no question about the meaning of words so plain. He refused to admit the validity of any arguments based on reason or mathematics. “God,” said he, “is above mathematics, and his words must be received with reverence and obeyed.”

Œcolampadius replied to Luther by quoting certain passages from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. With the words, “This is my body,” he compared, “I am the true vine.” From a carnal manducation he led up to a spiritual, and declared that his view was not groundless or isolated, but rested upon the faith of Scripture.

Luther admitted that Christ used figurative language in the sixth of John and elsewhere, but denied that the words “This is my body” were a figure of speech. “Since Christ says ‘This is,’ it must be so.”

oeco24Œcolampadius: To believe that Christ is in the bread is opinion, not faith. There is danger of attributing too much to the mere elements.

Luther: We are bound to listen not so much because of what is spoken, as because of Him who speaks. Since God speaks, let us pigmies of men listen; since He commands, let the world obey, and let all of us reverently kiss the Word.

Œcolampadius: Since we have the spiritual eating, what need is there of the corporal eating?

Luther: I care not about the need, but since it is written, “Take, eat: this is my body,” we must believe, and do it without question.

Œcolampadius quoted from the sixth chapter of John the words, “The flesh profiteth nothing.” “If the flesh,” said he, “when eaten profits nothing, it must appear to us”—here Zwingli interposed and accused Luther of prejudice, because he protested that he would not be driven from his views. “Comparison is necessary,” said he, “in the study of the Scriptures. It is the Spirit that gives life. The Spirit and the flesh are at enmity with each other. God does not propound to us things that are unintelligible. The disciples were mystified by the thought of the carnal eating. Therefore Christ explained to them the spiritual significance of his words.”

Luther: The words are not ours, but the Lord’s; let them be obeyed. By means of these words the hand of the priest becomes the hand of Christ. I will not argue as to whether is means signifies. It is enough for me that Christ says, “This is my body.” To raise questions about this is to fall away from the faith. Wherefore believe the plain words, and give glory to God.

Zwingli: We indeed implore that you glorify God by abandoning your main proposition. I would ask whether you believe that Christ in the sixth chapter of John desired to reply to the question addressed to him?

Luther: We take no account of that passage; it has no bearing on the subject in hand.

Zwingli: No? Why, that passage breaks your neck.

Luther’s proclivity for literalness of interpretation now took an amusing turn. He received Zwingli’s jocose remark as a threat of personal violence, and addressing his friends complained bitterly of the murderous intimation of his opponent. Zwingli laughingly explained that his language was figurative, and had reference to his opponent’s arguments.

Œcolampadius now gave the argument a Christological turn. “The Church,” said he, “was founded on the words, ‘Thou art the Son of God,’ and not on the words, ‘This is my body.’ ”

Luther: I do not hold to this in vain. To me it is sufficient that Christ says, “This is my body.” I confess that his body is in heaven, and that it is in the sacrament also. I care not if it be contrary to nature, provided it is not contrary to faith.

Œcolampadius: In all things He was made like unto us. As He is wholly like the Father in His divine nature, so He is wholly like us in His human nature.

Luther: “The poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always,” is the strongest argument you have advanced to-day. Christ is as substantially in the sacrament as when He was born of the Virgin. Faith needs no figures of speech.

Œcolampadius: We know not Christ after the flesh.

Melanchthon: After our flesh.

Œcolampadius: You will not admit a metaphor in the words of institution, and yet contrary to the Catholic conception you allow a synecdoche.

Luther: In a sword and its scabbard we have an example of synecdoche. “This is my body.” The body is in the bread, just as the sword is in the scabbard.

Zwingli (quoting from the Epistles): “God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” “He was made like unto his brethren.” Therefore we must conclude that Christ had a finite humanity, and if his body is on high it exists in one place. [He here quoted from Augustine, Fulgentius, and others.] We must affirm, therefore, that Christ’s body is in one place, and cannot be in many.

Luther: In like manner you might prove that Christ had a wife, and that his eyes were black.  As to his being in one place, I have already declared to you, and I now repeat, I care nothing for mathematics.

zwingliZwingli began quoting additional passages from the Greek text to prove the finiteness of Christ’s nature. Luther, interrupting him, requested that he employ either Latin or German instead of Greek. “Pardon me,” answered Zwingli, “for twelve years I have read the New Testament in Greek.”

Luther: As in the case of a nut and its shell, so in the case of Christ’s body. I concede its finiteness. But God can cause it to exist in a place and not in a place at the same time.

As soon as Luther conceded that Christ’s body was finite, Zwingli caught him up and said: “Therefore it is local, exists in a place, and if so, it is in heaven, and hence cannot be in the bread.” Luther would not admit that it existed in a place, saying: “Ich will es nicht gehebt haben, ich will sie nichts.” (I will not allow it, I positively will not.)

Zwingli retorted: “Muoss man dann grad alles, was ihr wollend?” (Must everything be as you will it?)

Fortunately, as Collin informs us, they were interrupted at this exciting juncture by a servant of the Prince, who announced that dinner was served.

When the theologians assembled at the next session, Zwingli resumed the discussion where they had left off. “Christ’s body is finite,” said he, “therefore it exists in a place.”

Luther: Although it is in the sacrament, it is not there as in a place. God could so dispose of my body that it would not be in a place; for the sophists say that a body can exist in several places at the same time; e.g., the earth is a body, yet it does not exist in one place.

Zwingli: You argue from the possible to the impossible. Prove to me that the body of Christ can exist in several places at the same time.

Luther: “This is my body.”

Zwingli: You repeatedly beg the question. I might thus contend that John was the son of Mary, for Christ said, “Behold thy son.” We must ever teach, forsooth, that Christ said, “Ecce filius tuus, ecce filius tuus!” Behold thy son, behold thy son!)

Luther: I do not beg the question.

Zwingli: Scripture must be compared with Scripture and expounded by itself. Tell me, pray, whether Christ’s body exists in a place.

melanchthonBrenz: It does not.

Zwingli: Augustine says that it must exist in a single place.

Luther: Augustine was not speaking of the Supper. The body of Christ is present in the Supper, but not locally present.

Œcolampadius: If that is so it cannot be a true body. [Œcolampadius began quoting from Augustine and Fulgentius.]

Luther: You have Augustine and Fulgentius on your side, but the rest of the Fathers support our views.

“Please name them,” said Œcolampadius. Luther refused, but afterward prepared a list of references to passages in the Fathers which he thought favorable to his views.

It became evident to all that further discussion would be vain, and it was agreed to close at this point. The fruitlessness of the conference was a great disappointment to the Landgrave. He urged the disputants to come to some partial agreement at least. “There is but one way to effect that,” said Luther. “Let our opponents accept our views.” “That we cannot do,” replied the Swiss. Thus ended the discussion. Zwingli had looked forward to this meeting with strong hope of a final settlement of the differences which divided the Protestant Church, and was now overcome with disappointment. He sat apart from his friends and shed tears in silence, while the Landgrave and the Hessian divines redoubled their activities in a final effort to bring about an amicable agreement.

Written by Jim

2 Oct 2017 at 7:37 am

Marburg, 1529, And the Colloquy There Held

Huldrych Zwingli and Johannes Oecolampadius met with Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon in Marburg beginning October 1, 1529 till October 3.  They agreed on 14 of 15 points but, as everyone knows, they couldn’t come to agreement on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper.  Luther was far too ensconced in Roman Catholic theology to see with the clarity with which Zwingli saw. Consequently, Luther left the conference angry and Zwingli left depressed.

Walter Koehler wrote a fine essay for Zwingliana in 1930 on the colloquy which took place in Marburg at the behest of Philip.

It commences

„Um den Glauben wird der Streit gehen und um das Geheimnis des göttlichen Wirkens in uns” —• de fide erit contentio et de mysterio divinae operationis in nobis —, so schrieb im Frühjahr 1527, als das schon längst zusammengeballte Gewitter des Abendmahlsstreites zwischen Luther und Zwingli unmittelbar vor der Entladung zu stehen schien, der Süddeutsche Theobald Billikan nach Basel an Johannes Oekolampad.

They put their names on that agreement on 3 October, went home, and wrote very uncharitable things about each other.

Philip Schaff does a nice job of summarizing both the discussions and the viewpoints of the major actors.

Written by Jim

1 Oct 2017 at 8:16 am