Category Archives: Zwingli

The Shepherd

Der hirt.

557820Wie man die waren christlichen hirten und widrumb die valschen erkennen, ouch wie man sich mit inen halten sölle, durch Huldrychen Zuingli beschriben im 1524. jar. Jacobon Schurtanner, Ceraunelateo, byschoff, das ist: wechter und hirten zuo Tüffen in Abbtzell, sinem lieben in gott bruoder, embüt Huldrych Zuingli gnad und fryd von gott dem vatter und sinem sun, unserem herren Jesu Christo.

Zwingli published ‘The Shepherd’ on 26 March, 1524. In this book he outlines basic Reformation theology as it applies to the office of the Pastor. Contrasting the good shepherd with the bad, he lays out, in sum, his ‘pastoral theology’.

It is one of Zwingli’s most abiding and engaging volumes. And it’s available in English from Wipf and Stock.

Zwingli Was Right About What Must Be Done With Heretics

When he wrote, in a disputation-

So far am I from yielding to you that unless you leave me and mine—that is, the sheep of Christ—in peace and quiet, I shall proceed to deal with you far more roughly, without fear of your words or your frowns. You must deal with me by means of the Holy Scriptures bestowed upon us by God (and do not forget that point), and they must not be twisted. You must not use things devised by the vanity of man, and you must come to close quarters and not fight by laying mines. As soon as I perceive any tricks, I shall expose them.

There it is.

Quote of the Day

True peace is had in God and not in one’s passions, which boil in constant turmoil like the waters of a tumultuous sea.  –  Huldrych Zwingli

Today With Zwingli: Predigt wider die Pensionen

zwingli_1513Zwingli was unwilling to see Swiss boys and young men killed in the service of foreign overlords and he despised the mercenary services.  So on 12 March, 1525 he published his Predigt wider die Pensionen.

To make it comprehensible to moderns, it could be like a high profile Pastor/ Theologian preaching a withering sermon against the military/industrial complex of today.

The sermon’s auditor remarked

Zwingli stuond am sontag nach Fridolini imm mertzen an die kantze und prediget vom allten stand der Eydgnoschafft, wie einfallte und fromme lüth vor zyten gewesen, die grosse syg und träffliche gnad von gott gehept. Ietzund habe sich das volck verkert; darumb straffe uns gott so ernstlich. Und uns werde nitt mögen gehulffen werden, wir nämind dann widerumb an unser fordern frommkeit, unschuld und einfelltikeit. Sunst werdint wir für und für rysen, fallen und zuoletzt gar zerfallen, ja zerschmëtteren. Gott werde den übermuot nitt lyden.

Would that God would send us another Zwingli to stand publicly against the corruption of mercenary service.

As everyone knows, Zwingli would himself perish in battle- but not as a mercenary. Instead, he died as a Chaplain ministering to the troops of Zurich at Kappel-am-Albis on 11 October, 1531.

Zwingli’s Translation of Jeremiah

On March 11th, Zwingli issued his translation of Jeremiah with annotations, and dedicated it to the city of Strassburg, in further recognition of its entering into the Christian Burgher Rights. – S. Jackson

The full title is Complanationis Ieremiae Prophetae Foetura prima, cum Apologia quur quidque sic uersum sit per Huldrichum Zuinglium.

It remains one of the finest commentaries on Jeremiah ever written.

Zwingli For Today

reformers1.jpgThe promiscuous pairing of animals, even in our judgment, is not base, though such pairing of human beings is most base. But what is it that absolves them but condemns us? The Law. For by the divine law we are confined within the barriers of matrimony.— Huldrych Zwingli

Quote of the Day

»Willst du gerne fasten, dann tue es! Willst du dabei auf Fleisch verzichten, dann iss auch kein Fleisch! Lass mir aber dabei dem Christen die freie Wahl!« –  Huldrych Zwingli

How Reform Began in Zurich

Reform began slowly but surely, first with worship. Lent was abandoned as a man made tradition in 1522 and by 1523 the Mass itself was replaced with ‘The Lord’s Supper’. Silver ‘Mass utensils’, cups, and bowls were replaced with common wood. Tables were set up in the Sanctuary so that the Supper more resembled a supper. Images were removed, worship was reorganized, and the Reform gained speed and strength through a series of public debates which Zwingli and his colleagues in Reform easily won.*

*Jim West, “Christ Our Captain”: An Introduction to Huldrych Zwingli (Quartz Hill, CA: Quartz Hill Publishing House, 2011), 15–16.

Today With Zwingli: I’m Not Eating Sausage, But If You Want To, It’s Fine…

sausageOn 9 March, 1522 the printer Froschauer and his assistants had dinner.  What they had blew a hole in Catholic practice and caused a stir in Zurich the repercussions of which would be felt all across Europe.  They had sausage.  They ate meat during Lent and Zwingli, who was there, approved (though he didn’t eat sausages, apparently not being fond of them).

Schaff describes the situation – colorfully –

Zwingli was permitted to labor in Zurich for two years without serious opposition, although he had not a few enemies, both religious and political. The magistracy of Zurich took at first a neutral position, and ordered the priests of the city and country to preach the Scriptures, and to be silent about human inventions (1520). This is the first instance of an episcopal interference of the civil authority in matters of religion. It afterwards became a settled custom in Protestant Switzerland with the full consent of Zwingli. He was appointed canon of the Grossmünster, April 29, 1521, with an additional salary of seventy guilders, after he had given up the papal pension. With this moderate income he was contented for the rest of his life.

During Lent, 1522, Zwingli preached a sermon in which he showed that the prohibition of meat in Lent had no foundation in Scripture. Several of his friends, including his publisher, Froschauer, made practical use of their liberty. This brought on an open rupture. The bishop of Constance sent a strong deputation to Zurich, and urged the observance of the customary fasts. The magistracy prohibited the violation, and threatened to punish the offenders (April 9, 1522).

Zwingli defended himself in a tract on the free use of meats (April 16). It is his first printed book. He essentially takes the position of Paul, that, in things indifferent, Christians have liberty to use or to abstain, and that the Church authorities have no right to forbid this liberty. He appeals to such passages as 1 Cor. 8:8; 10:25; Col. 2:16; 1 Tim. 4:1; Rom. 14:1–3; 15:1, 2.

The bishop of Constance issued a mandate to the civil authorities (May 24), exhorting them to protect the ordinances of the Holy Church. He admonished the canons, without naming Zwingli, to prevent the spread of heretical doctrines. He also sought and obtained the aid of the Swiss Diet, then sitting at Lucerne.

Zwingli was in a dangerous position. He was repeatedly threatened with assassination. But he kept his courage, and felt sure of ultimate victory. He replied in the Archeteles (“the Beginning and the End”), hoping that this first answer would be the last. He protested that he had done no wrong, but endeavored to lead men to God and to his Son Jesus Christ in plain language, such as the common people could understand. He warned the hierarchy of the approaching collapse of the Romish ceremonies, and advised them to follow the example of Julius Caesar, who folded his garments around him that he might fall with dignity. The significance of this book consists in the strong statement of the authority of the Scriptures against the authority of the Church. Erasmus was much displeased with it.

And it all started with a greasy blob of meat scraps held together by intestine…

Fun Facts From Church History

  1. Zwingli suffered from ulcers, and died of a halberd in the face.
  2. Luther suffered from gall stones, and died of liver disease.
  3. Calvin suffered from a plethora of illnesses, and died after a very long illness.

What’s this mean?  That being a Reformer ruins your body. Don’t be a Reformer.


Fun Facts From Church History: Luther’s Lectures on Psalm Two and a Post-Mortem Slam on Zwingli

7headedlutherIn 1532 Luther lectured on Psalm two on the following dates: March 5, April 9, April 16, May 27, May 28, June 8, July 5. He took his time with the text (obviously) and in the course of those lectures snidely remarked

That the kings and rulers rage against us at the present time, that Zwingli, Carlstadt, and others cause disturbances in the church, that burghers and peasants condemn the Gospel, is therefore nothing new or unusual.


Münzer stirs up an uproar in Thuringia. Carlstadt and Zwingli stir up horrible disturbances in the church when they try to persuade others that in Communion the body and blood of Christ are not received orally, but only bread and wine. Others join them, and gradually this pernicious doctrine fills France, Italy, and other nations.


“These things have happened through no fault of mine, therefore let the authors of these evils torture themselves. Not I. I shall do and I shall indeed try everything I can to alleviate these evils somewhat, but if I am unable to do so, I shall not on that account consume myself in sorrow. If one Münzer, Carlstadt, or Zwingli is not enough for Satan, he may stir up many more. I know that the nature of this kingdom is such that Satan cannot bear it. He labors with hands and feet with all his might that he may disturb the churches and oppose the Word.”

And several other times as well. That Luther lumps Zwingli with the Radicals is no surprise. What is surprising is his willingness to speak so ill of the dead. Indeed, of the dead not long dead!

Luther: he was a real jerk. (He’s been dead long enough one can say so without any twinge of guilt).

The Publication of the Proceedings of the First Zurich Disputation

The Young Zwingli

It only took a couple of months after the First Zurich Disputation concluded (in January, 1523) for the proceedings to be printed and published by Froschauer at the direction of the Council (on 3 March).

The First Zurich Disputation was the apex of years of work and it was at the same time the victory of the new Reformed theology over the old Catholic faith.  The dispute was conducted in German (instead of Latin) and published in the same.  It opens

Handlung der versamlung in der löblichen statt Zürich uff den 29. tag jenners vonn wegen des heyligen euangelii zwischen der ersamen treffenlichen bottschafft von Costentz, Huldrichen Zwingli, predigers des euangelii Christi und gemeiner priesterschafft des gantzen gebiets der egenanten statt Zürich vor geseßnem radt beschehen im 1523. jar.

The entire thing is a delightful read- and it even includes brilliant flashes of humor and levity.

Fun Facts From Church History: The Publication of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament and Zwingli

You may not know this, but Erasmus’ edition of the GNT appeared on the 2nd of March, 1516.  Zwingli made a copy, by hand of course, of the Letters of Paul that same year.  Interestingly, and significantly, those marginal notes demonstrate that Zwingli was moving towards reform then (in 1516) before anyone had ever heard the name of Luther.


The New Edition of Schattenwurf Zwingli

maerzFor March.  Enjoy.

Vorrede zur Prophetenbibel

1525 Zurich Bible

1525 Zurich Bible

On 1 March 1529 Zwingli’s edition of the Prophets was published; the Vorrede zur Prophetenbibel.

Dann obglych vormaals ein vertolmetschung der propheten ußgangen, ward doch dieselbe vonn vilen einvaltigen unnd guothertzigen(als von den widertoeufferen ußgangen) nit wenig geschücht, wiewol dieselbe, so vil wir darinn geläsen, an vil orten flyssig unnd getrüwlich naach dem ebreischen buochstaben vertütscht ist. Wäm wolt aber nit schühen und grusen ab der vertolmetschung, die von denen ußgangen ist, die die rechten rädlyfuerer warend der säckten unnd rotten, die unns uff den hüttigen tag in der kilchen gottes mee unruow gestattet, dann das bapstuomb ye gethon hatt? Under wölicher säckt etlich Christum Jhesum waaren gott sin gethörend verneynen, etlich den tüfel unnd die gottlosen sälig sprechen, dargegen die, die nun ein wenig lachtend, der verdamnuß zuoeignen. Die leerend einer oberkeyt nitt gehorsam sin unnd die werck dermaaß wider ynfuerend, daß man ann irer leer spüret, daß Christus by inenn nitt vil giltet, die die gröste glychßnery wider ufrichtend unnd in falschem schyn der frommkeyt inen selbs für alle gfallend. Wär wolt jaa sölichen getrüwen, daß sy die ort in den propheten, die vonn Christo, dem behalter der welt [cf. Kol. 1.17], waarem menschen unnd gott, lutend unnd gewyssaget sind, getrüwlich handletend, so Christus vonn inenn gott sin unnd für aller menschen sünd gnuoggethon unnd bezalt haben, verneynt wirdt?

Zwingli’s translation of the Prophets would be followed in 1531 with the publication of the entire Bible in Swiss German.  As a translation, Zwingli’s is better than Luther’s- especially in the Old Testament where Luther’s lack of skill in rendering Hebrew is most apparent.

The Zurich Bible has been revised several times and is available for all who wish to read it.  Which you should.

Ad Theobaldi Billicani et Urbani Rheii epistolae responsio

zwingliThe Lord’s Supper occupied Zwingli from 1522 onwards with things coming to a head at Marburg in 1529.  Between these two critical dates amidst disputing with the Papists and the Anabaptists, Zwingli had to explain to friends and foes his view.

On 1 March 1526 Zwingli published his Ad Theobaldi Billicani et Urbani Rheii epistolae responsio. Here Zwingli glosses a letter from Billican and writes a letter to him and Urban in order to describe more fully not only his views but to point out their errors.

It’s a pleasant read. Enjoy.

How Much Did Zwingli Make on the Books He Published?


reformersIt [the Amica Exegesis] appeared February 28, 1527. The Frankfort Fair was the great book mart. Zwingli, like Luther, made nothing from his publications. In which respect he resembled most modern authors, only he expected nothing! He once wrote to Vadianus (May 28, 1525, vii., 398): “There was a man lately who said that I sold copies to the printers at a high price. That man lied against the Holy Spirit. It must not be permitted therefore that this can be said with truth. I ask nothing than that they commend me to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Publishing for the sake of disseminating the truth.  What. A. Concept.  Writing to instruct rather than become rich and famous.  Just.  Imagine.

1Jackson is wrong about the date- the Amica Exegesis appeared on the 8th of February, not the 28th. Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531).

What Zwingli Thinks of Lent

zwingli1011.jpgNo one shall reject you or consider you good on account of any food, or holyday, whether you rest or not (always excepting Sundays, after God’s Word has been heard and communion administered). Let the new moon fast and the Sabbath go; for these things have become only symbolical of a Christian holiday, when one is to cease and leave off sinning, also that we, repenting such works, become happy only in the mercy of God; and, as Christ has come, the shadows and symbols are without doubt done away with.

One thing more, notice as to the time: It surely seems to me (I cannot help thinking so) that to keep certain times with timidity is an injury and harm to unchanging and everlasting justice, thus: simple people think that everything is right, if only they confess the fasts, fast, enjoy God (i.e., take the sacrament), and let the whole year pass away thus; whereas one should at all times confess God, live piously, and do no more than we think is necessary in the fast. And Christ says again, Matthew 25:13: “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour.”

My Gift To You This Lent: Zwingli’s “Sermon on the Free Choice of Food”- Zurich, 1522

From the brilliant collection of Zwingli’s Works which also counts among its constituent parts this utterly fantastic introduction to the life and work of Zwingli– which is described thusly by Peter Opitz-

Jim West’s book on Zwingli can be highly recommended to everyone who wants to learn more about the faith and thought of the man whose works contain the seed of Reformed theology. It bears all the traits of a good introduction to the subject: short, easy to read, and true to its title pointing out what was most important to Zwingli himself, not leaving the darker sides of Zwingli’s biography unattended, and last but not least, letting the Reformer’s own voice be heard. — Peter Opitz, Professor of Church History, Universität Zürich

Happy Anti-Lent! You’re welcome!

Today With Zwingli: Zwingli’s 1526 Edition of Pindar

S. Jackson remarks, justifiably,

zwingli_pindarOn April 14, 1525, Zwingli was chosen rector of the Carolinum, the Great Minster school; consequently he moved into the official residence of the rector, and lived there until death. He used his new position to improve the schools and took part himself in the biblical instruction, which he had made part of the curriculum. That he was still fond of humanistic studies and had not forgotten his Greek amid all his absorbing labours, he demonstrated by issuing on February 24, 1526, in Basel, an edition of the poems of Pindar.

Koehler writes

Zu den schönsten Zeugnissen von Zwingiis Verehrung der Antike gehört seine Praefatio und seine Epistola zu der Pindar-Ausgabe seines früh verstorbenen Freundes Jakob Ceporin. Ihre Bedeutung ist daher auch in der neuen Zwingliausgabe (Bd. IV, S. 863 ff.) entsprechend hervorgehoben worden.

You can read the Preface here.  Zwingli was a man of learning.  And he remained exactly that his entire life.