Category Archives: Zwingli

The Contents of Zwingli’s Library

Zwingli’s personal library held over 400 works.  The Central Library of Zurich has 197 of them.  And they are all digitized, which means that where Zwingli annotated them you can see those annotations themselves.    With 10,000 thanks to Urs Leu for mentioning the collection in his book:

Finally it should be noted that all titles held by the ZBZ are available in digitized form at the following internet address: http://www.e‑

Zwingli was no Lutheran

“I do not want the papists to call me a Lutheran for I did not learn the doctrine of Christ from Luther, but rather from the Word of God. When Luther preaches Christ, he does the very same as me, though—thank God— innumerably more people are led to God through him than through me and others.” – HZ

Zwingli’s Testimony at Hubmaier’s Trial

Zwingli testified at Balthasar Hubmaier’s trial as follows:

Doctor Balthasar hatt grett, man moge der oberkeit nienderth mit bas abkommenn, dann mit dem widertouff.  — Zwingli.

And the council passed sentence of exile.  Because the Anabaptists were viewed not so much heretics (which they were) as anarchists.  The council could deal with heretics.  Anarchists, though, were a cancer that had to be excised without mercy.

Luther? Who is That?

Zwingli seems only to have become aware of Luther at the end of 1518, although he had probably heard of the dispute about indulgences in Germany in 1517. His interest in the German reformer only really dates from a year after this when he made enquiries about Luther to his colleague Beatus Rhenanus in Basle. On 6th December 1518 Rhenanus replied: “We have not yet been able to find out anything about Luther. – Urs Leu

Zwingli and Jerome

Here’s a fun fact from Urs Leu’s brilliant book-

Jerome is mentioned [by Zwingli][JW] 873 times, Augustine 512, Ambrose 451, and Origen 345, the names of the latter two occurring predominantly in the marginal notes of Zwingli’s copy of the Greek Pauline epistles.

Zwingli loved Jerome.  With good reason.

Today With Zwingli

Zwingli was in Bern for the doings there and wrote his lovely wife to check in on things.

thumb_zwingli-and-wife-2Gnad und frid von gott.

Liebste husfrow, ich sag gott danck, das er dir ein fröliche gburt verlihen hatt. Der welle üns die nach sinem willen ze erziehen verlyhen. Schick miner bäsy j oder ij tuechly sölcher maass und wys, als du sy treyst. Sy kumpt zimmlich, doch nit bagynlich, ist ein frow von 40 iaren,  in alle wys und maass, wie sy meister Iörgen frow beschriben hatt.  Tuot mir und üns allen über die maass guetlich. Bis hiemit gott  bevolhen. Gruetz mir gfatter schaffnerin, Uolmann(!) Trinckler,  schultheiss Effingerin, und wer dir lieb sye.  Bitt gott für mich und uns alle.

Geben ze Bernn xj. tags Ienners.

Gruetz mir alle dine kind; besunder Margreten tröst in minem namen.

Huldrych Zuingli, din huswirt.  Schick mir, so bald du kanst, den tol’ggenrock.

Der frommen Anna Reinhartin ze Zürich, siner lieben husfrowen.

Zwingli on the Indispensability of the Biblical Languages

You cannot maintain your soul in better order than by meditating on the Word of God day and night. But this can only be done correctly if Hebrew and Greek are properly mastered because, without the one, the Old Testament cannot be really understood, and without the second, the New Testament cannot be correctly understood*.  — Huldrych Zwingli

*Tr. by Urs Leu. – “Rectius autem animum componere non poterit, quam si verbum dei nocturna manu diurnaque verset. Id autem commode faciet, si linguas, Hebraicam et Graecam probe calleat, quod sine altera vetus instrumentum, sine altera novum pure capi difficulter possit.”

Today With Zwingli

On 11 January, 1527 Zwingli wrote Philip, Margrave of Baden, this

zwingliRespersit omnium, qui apud nos sunt piorum aures pietatis tuę fama, clarissime marchio, quę me tam confidentem reddidit, ut mortalium omnium postremus ad te, dominum meum observandissimum, istas dare nihil sim cunctatus.

Adstipulatae sunt proposito tua illa insignis bonitas ac ingenii vere ingenui dexteritas et, quae alios deterrere potuisset, amplitudo. Invitavit quoque super omnia iudicii sanctitas, quae in principibus ut rara, pro dolor, est hac tempestate, ita in te incorrupta nitet, ut nemo conscientia bona fretus non audeat intrepide ad te accedere. Cum ergo Jacobus Struthio), homo fortasse audentior quam doctior, loquentior quam circumspectior, libellum in nos ediderit, se quidem non magnopere, te vero, illustrissimo ac optimo principe, indignissimum, quo et eucharistiae veritatem subruere et, quam in euangelii sui ministerio autoritatem dominus dedit, contaminare ex professo etiam nititur, nihil cessandum esse duxi, quo minus istius impudentiae responderemus, propterea quod esset a sacris concionibus tuis.

Certus enim sum, quod, quicquid tandem in considerationem veniat, ubi veritas eius singulari prudentiae tuae planius exponatur, nullatenus offensum iri posse. Est ergo eucharistię causa nobis hoc libello denuo tractata; faxit deus, ut omnia in gloriam suam cedant, non hercle quasi prius non sint affatim omnia prodita, sed ut, qui contentiosi sunt, plane videant, verborum figmentis veri faciem obscurare nequire, semperque futuros esse, qui illius amore non modo silere, sed non in discrimen quoque venire nolint. Lege ergo, si licet ac decet, eum libellum, neque hic quicquam dictum puta in sacrosanctam pietatem tuam. Videbis haud dubie indigne facere, qui rem minime compertam sic apud indoctam plebem traducunt. Boni facito pro tua bonitate omnia et, ut euangelio eiusque ministris hactenus tanquam Abdias [1. Kön. 18, 3ff.] patrocinatus es, perge.

Tiguri, 11. die Januarii 1527.

Zwingli worked hard far and wide to spread the truth of Reformed doctrine. That’s why he made a difference.

Quote of the Day

Let us, therefore, fight vigorously and prudently on a fair field, for we are defending a most righteous cause, in which we feel sure there is no hidden wrong. Let them hurl upon us from the hostile camp those soldiers’ insults—“traitors,” “robbers,” “weaklings.” Let us care nothing for them, trusting completely to our cause. — Huldrych Zwingli

Women in Zwingli’s World

Here’s a great essay for your weekend reading pleasure: Women in Zwingli’s World.

Traditional Zwingli scholarship has been fairly unanimous in the assumption that women did not play a significant role in Zwingli’s life. The records are strangely silent on the matter. Neither his writings nor his activities suggest that Zwingli was greatly involved with women and their specific concerns. In fact, one of the archivists of the Zürich Staatsarchiv expressed surprise some years ago when I asked for catalogue entries under the subject heading «women in Zwingli’s world». Nonetheless, the possibility of gaining new insights into the role women played in Zwingli’s world led us to re-examine a number of available sources.

Do enjoy.

The Berne Disputation

Schaff writes

The disputation at Berne lasted nineteen days (from Jan. 6 to 26). It was the Protestant counterpart of the disputation at Baden in composition, arrangements and result. It had the same effect for Berne as the disputations of 1523 had for Zurich. The invitations were general; but the Roman Catholic cantons and the four bishops who were invited refused, with the exception of the bishop of Lausanne, to send delegates, deeming the disputation of Baden final.

Dr. Eck, afraid to lose his fresh laurels, was unwilling, as he said, “to follow the heretics into their nooks and corners”; but he severely attacked the proceedings. The Reformed party was strongly represented by delegates from Zurich, Basel, and St. Gall, and several cities of South Germany. Zurich sent about one hundred ministers and laymen, with a strong protection.

The chief speakers on the Reformed side were Zwingli, Haller, Kolb, Oecolampadius, Capito, and Bucer from Strassburg; on the Roman side, Grab, Huter, Treger, Christen, and Burgauer. Joachim von Watt of St. Gall presided. Popular sermons were preached during the disputation by Blaurer of Constance, Zwingli, Bucer, Oecolampadius, Megander, and others.

The Reformers carried an easy and complete victory, and reversed the decision of Baden. The ten Theses or Conclusions, drawn up by Haller and revised by Zwingli, were fully discussed, and adopted as a sort of confession of faith for the Reformed Church of Berne. They are as follows:

1. The holy Christian Church, whose only Head is Christ, is born of the Word of God, and abides in the same, and listens not to the voice of a stranger.

2. The Church of Christ makes no laws and commandments without the Word of God. Hence human traditions are no more binding on us than as far as they are founded in the Word of God.

3. Christ is the only wisdom, righteousness, redemption, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Hence it is a denial of Christ when we confess another ground of salvation and satisfaction.

4. The essential and corporal presence of the body and blood of Christ cannot be demonstrated from the Holy Scripture.

5. The mass as now in use, in which Christ is offered to God the Father for the sins of the living and the dead, is contrary to the Scripture, a blasphemy against the most holy sacrifice, passion, and death of Christ, and on account of its abuses an abomination before God.

6. As Christ alone died for us, so he is also to be adored as the only Mediator and Advocate between God the Father and the believers. Therefore it is contrary to the Word of God to propose and invoke other mediators.

7. Scripture knows nothing of a purgatory after this life. Hence all masses and other offices for the dead are useless.

8. The worship of images is contrary to Scripture. Therefore images should be abolished when they are set up as objects of adoration.

9. Matrimony is not forbidden in the Scripture to any class of men; but fornication and unchastity are forbidden to all.

10. Since, according to the Scripture, an open fornicator must be excommunicated, it follows that unchastity and impure celibacy are more pernicious to the clergy than to any other class.

All to the glory of God and his holy Word.

Zwingli preached twice during the disputation. He was in excellent spirits, and at the height of his fame and public usefulness. In the first sermon he explained the Apostles’ Creed, mixing in some Greek and Hebrew words for his theological hearers. In the second, he exhorted the Bernese to persevere after the example of Moses and the heroes of faith.

Perseverance alone can complete the triumph. (Ferendo vincitur fortuna.) Behold these idols conquered, mute, and scattered before you. The gold you spent upon them must henceforth be devoted to the good of the living images of God in their poverty.

“Hold fast,” he said in conclusion, “to the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free. You know how much we have suffered in our conscience, how we were directed from one false comfort to another, from one commandment to another which only burdened our conscience and gave us no rest. But now ye have found freedom and peace in the knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ. From this freedom let nothing separate you. To hold it fast requires great fortitude. You know how our ancestors, thanks to God, have fought for our bodily liberty; let us still more zealously guard our spiritual liberty; not doubting that God, who has enlightened and drawn you, will in due time also draw our dear neighbors and fellow-confederates to him, so that we may live together in true friendship. May God, who created and redeemed us all, grant this to us and to them. Amen.”

There’s a good deal of material in Zwingli’s Works related to the Berne Disputation.  Those are found in vol. VI/1 of ZW.

Nr. 110 Bittschrift an den Rat, daß man Zwingli selbst und andere Gelehrte an die Disputation zu Bern senden möge, Zwischen 7. und 11. Dezember 1527
Nr. 111 Ratschlag der 4 Verordneten und 3 Leutpriester wegen der Disputation zu Bern, Zwischen 7. und 11. Dezember 1527
Nr. 112 Notizen Zwinglis an der Berner Disputation, 6. bis 25. Januar 1528
Nr. 113 Voten Zwinglis an der Berner Disputation, 6. bis 25. Januar 1528
Nr. 114 Zwinglis Entwurf für Berchtold Hallers Schlußansprache, 25. oder 26. Januar 1528
Nr. 115 Entbietung Zwinglis, Oekolampads, Capitos und Bucers, 26. Januar 1528
Nr. 116 Die beiden Predigten Zwinglis in Bern, 19. und 30. Januar 1528
Nr. 117 Anweisung für das Berner Reformationsmandat, Zwischen 27. und 31. Januar 1528

Read that. It’ll give you some food for thought.

Ulrich Jr.

Zwingli’s family tree

Did you know…

William, 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.*

*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), 360.

The Invitation to the First Zurich Disputation: 3 January, 1523

zurich_stumpf“We, the Burgomaster, Council and the Great Council, as the Two Hundred of the city of Zurich are called, send to all and every people’s priest, pastor, curate, and preacher having parish and dwelling in our cities, country, dominion, upper and lower jurisdiction and territory, our salutation, favourable and gracious disposition, and would have you to wit: Since now for a long time much dissension and disagreement have existed among those preaching the Gospel to the common people, some believing that they have truly and completely delivered the gospel message, others reproving them as if they had not done it skilfully and properly.

Consequently the latter call the former errorists, traitors, and even heretics, although they, desiring to do the best thing, and for the sake of the honour of God, peace and Christian unity, offer to give to everyone desiring it account and proof of their doctrines out of Holy Scriptures. So this is our command, will, and desire: That ye pastors, curates, preachers, as a body and individually, if any especial priests desire to speak about this, having benefices in our city of Zurich, or otherwheres in our territory, or if any desire to reprove the other side, or otherwise to instruct them, appear before us on the day after Emperor Charles’s day, that is the nine and twentieth day of the month of January, at early Council time, in our city of Zurich and particularly in our Council House, and that those contending should do so, using the truly Divine Word in the German tongue and speech.

There we with all diligence, with some scholars, if it seems good to us, will give attention, and, according to what shall prove itself to be consonant with Holy Scripture and truth, we shall send each and every one of you home with the command to continue or to abstain; so that from henceforth each one may not preach from the pulpit what seems to him good, without foundation in the true Holy Scripture. We shall also announce the same to our gracious lord [the Bishop] of Constance, so that his Grace or his representative, if he so desire, may also be present.

But if anyone be contrarious and bring not in proof from the true, Holy Scripture with him we shall proceed further according to our knowledge, in a way from which we would gladly be relieved. We are also of good hope in Almighty God that those earnestly seeking the light of truth He will so graciously illuminate with the same, that we may walk in the light as children of the light.

“Given and officially stamped with our secret seal, Saturday after the Circumcision of Christ [January 3] and after His birth in the three and twentieth year of the lesser reckoning.”

Victory for Zwingli and his colleagues was assured when the Scriptures were declared the only authority.

Zwingli’s Opposition to the Worship of Mary

zwingli_lookoutWe do not insult Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, when we forbid that she be adored with divine honors; but when we would attribute to her the majesty and power of the Creator, she herself would not permit such adoration. For true piety has one and the same character among all men and is the same in all, because it originates by one and the same Spirit.

It cannot even be imagined, therefore, that any created being should at the same time be pious and suffer the worship due the Deity to be offered to himself. So also the Virgin Mother of God will as much the less accept the worship due the Deity as she is high above all created beings and reverently devoted to God, her Son. It is a mark of insanity in godless men and demons when they allow divine honors to be paid to them.*

Zwingli wrongly believed that Mary remained perpetually a virgin. But he was right to excoriate worship of her. Something as a Christian he simply could not and would not do.

*H. Zwingli, The Latin Works of Huldreich Zwingli. (W. J. Hinke, Ed.) (Vol. 2, p. 239).

It’s Zwingli’s Day, So He Gets the Last Word

And its a word concerning one Clichtove, Bishop of Chartres, France whom he calls “a theologian taking the Sacred Writings in hand like a donkey running a solemn ceremony.”

There are a lot of Clichtove’s about now.  A lot.

Today With Zwingli: Rumormongering Catabaptists

zwingli9093On 12 February, 1526, Zwingli wrote this letter to the folk at Appenzell

“Grace and peace from God to you, respected, honoured, wise, clement, gracious and beloved Masters: An exceedingly unfortunate affair has happened to me, in that I have been publicly accused before your worships of having reviled you in unseemly words and, be it said with all respect, of having called you heretics, my gracious rulers of the State. I am so far from applying this name to you, that I should as soon think of calling heaven hell. For all my life I have thought and spoken of you in terms of praise and honour, gentlemen of Abtzell, as I do to-day, and, as God favours me, shall do to the end of my days.

But it happened not long ago when I was preaching against the Catabaptists that I used these words: ‘The Catabaptists are now doing so much mischief to the upright citizens of Abtzell and are showing so great insolence, that nothing could be more infamous.’ You see, gentle sirs, with what modesty I grieved on your account, because the turbulent Catabaptists caused you so much trouble.

Indeed I suspect that the Catabaptists are the very people who have set this sermon against me in circulation among you, for they do many of those things which do not become true Christians. Therefore, gentle and wise sirs, I beg most earnestly that you will have me exculpated before the whole community, and, if occasion arise, that you will have this letter read in public assembly. Sir, I assure you in the name of God our Saviour, in these perilous times you have never been out of my thoughts and my solicitous anxiety; and if in any way I shall be able to serve you I will spare no pains to do so.

In addition to the fact that I never use such terms even against my enemies, let me say that it never entered my mind to apply such insulting epithets to you, pious and wise sirs. Sufficient of this. May God preserve you in safety, and may He put a curb on these unbridled falsehoods which are being scattered everywhere, which is an evidence of some great peril—and may He hold your worships and the whole state in the true faith of Christ! Take this letter of mine in good part, for I could not suffer that so base a falsehood against me should lie uncontradicted.”*

*S. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 250–251).

A Blast From the Past: The 1984 Celebration of Zwingli’s 500th Birthday

With thanks to Pat Graham of Emory for this lovely gift-

Things Zwingli Wrote that You Should Read, And a Random Map


Zwingli Assumed the Pastorate of the Great Minster on 1 January, 1519


But his name wasn’t the only one in consideration…

Strong as was the sentiment in Zurich in favor of Zwingli, there were not wanting those who from the start opposed his election. A personality so aggressive could not fail to make enemies.

Many hated him because of his views on the subject of foreign pensions; others whose sympathies were thoroughly Roman suspected his loyalty to the Church, and caught a faint vision of what his coming to Zurich would mean.

The opposition, though bitter and determined, because of the fewness of their numbers despaired from the start of accomplishing anything. As soon as it was known that Zwingli was under consideration several candidates were put forward for the place, and among them one Lawrence Fable, who preached a sermon in the Great Minster, and of whom the report was circulated that he had been chosen.

Zwingli at first was inclined to credit the report. Hitherto he had appeared quite indifferent to what was occurring at Zurich. The knowledge that unworthy persons were seeking to supplant him seems to have acted as a stimulus. At any rate, he now became interested to the extent of writing to Myconius in regard to his prospects. In a letter under date of December 2, 1518, assuming the truthfulness of the report with respect to Fable, he says,

“Well! I know the significance of popular applause. A Swabian preferred to a Swiss! Truly, a prophet is without honor in his own country.”

Myconius in reply the next day removes his false apprehension. “Fable will remain a fable; for they have learned that he is father of six boys and holds I know not how many livings.”  He then proceeds to assure him of the number and strength of his friends, and of his own unceasing activity in his behalf. He does not conceal from him the doings of his enemies, and mentions certain charges that were being circulated against his character.

“Although there is no one,” he says, “but praises your teachings to the skies, there are certain to whom your natural aptitude for music appears to be a sin, and thence infer that you are impure and worldly,” Again, he assures him that he has great reason to hope. “It is right that you should take courage and not despair. Even the canons who are opposed to you predict to themselves that you will be the next preacher.”

He closes with the exhortation, “Hope on, for I hope.” The election took place on the 11th of December, 1518, and Zwingli was chosen by a large majority. This event caused great rejoicing among his friends, except those at Einsiedeln, for whom it was a matter of the keenest regret.

The administrator of the Abbey, Baron Geroldseck, whose relationship with Zwingli had ripened into the warmest of friendships, was especially affected. Even the council of the canton were impressed to the extent of transmitting to Zwingli a letter of regret couched in the most respectful terms.*

Swabians… seriously?

*Samuel Simpson, Life of Ulrich Zwingli: The Swiss Patriot and Reformer (New York: Baker & Taylor Co., 1902), 71–73.

Read Some of Zwingli’s Letters on His Birthday