Category Archives: Zwingli

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

Des Pfarrers Hochzeit

Zwinglis Biografie beginnt recht gewöhnlich: Aufgewachsen im Toggenburg, Lateinschulen und Studium in Bern, Basel und Wien. Ab 1506 war er Pfarrer in Glarus. Er schloss Ehen, taufte, predigte, bestattete und nahm Beichten ab. Er setzte sich für eine neue Schule ein, er trieb einen Holzsplitter auf, der aus dem Kreuz Jesu stammen soll, und er riet kriegslustigen jungen Glarnern, sich besser vom Papst anwerben zu lassen, als von den Franzosen. Schliesslich machte sich Zwingli sein eigenes Bild: 1515 stand er ernüchtert auf dem Schlachtfeld von Marignano  – und predigte von da an gegen das Söldnerwesen.

1516 erschien Erasmus’ neue Übersetzung der Bibel. Erasmus vertrat, was Zwingli selbst an der Kirche störte. Zwingli begann, gegen Wallfahrten zu predigen, gegen den Ablass, gegen katholische Grundsätze. 1519 wurde er Priester am Zürcher Grossmünster. Die Zürcher Obrigkeit stützte seine Positionen und in der Bevölkerung kamen seine verständlichen und engagierten Predigten gut an. 1522 wurden aus Worten Taten: Zwingli war anwesend, als im Haus seines Druckers das Fastengebot demonstrativ gebrochen und Fleisch gegessen wurde. Ein Jahr danach wurde Zwingli der Ketzerei bezichtigt, woraufhin die Regierung ihn und seine Widersacher zur «Disputation» vorlud. Zwingli gewann und predigte als Nächstes gegen die Bilderverehrung. Es folgte 1523 eine zweite Disputation, die Zwingli erneut gewann. Daraufhin verschwanden die Bilder aus den Zürcher Kirchen und die Messe wurde abgeschafft. Wenige Montag später heiratete Zwingli Anna Reinhart, mit der er seit Jahren in wilder Ehe gelebt hatte.

Etc. Do enjoy.

Quote of the Day

Clear and sure knowledge of the truth is not a thing to let itself be deceived by the artifice of words. –  Huldrych Zwingli

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

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…

Zwingli Bibliographie

Zwingli-Bibliographie: Verzeichnis der gedruckten Schriften von und über Ulrich Zwingli

IMG_7881Brill have brought back this classic work from 1968 in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Zwingli’s arrival in Zurich.

Printed in the fantastic Fraktur font which graced the printings of so many wonderful volumes of the last century in Germany, this is exactly what it purports to be- a bibliography both of Zwingli’s own works and of the works which graced his personal library.

Though not as thorough as the modern critically assembled listing (which the Central Library of Zurich has put together) and though less informative than the brilliant work of Urs Leu and Sandra Wiedmann which was just published a few months ago, also by Brill, the present work nonetheless is a valuable tool for research.

Divided into two major sections, readers are provided, firstly, a listing including full title page details of all of Zwingli’s works in chronological order.  The second major section then offers a listing with all the relevant bibliographic details of works which discuss Zwingli from 1600 to the days of Georg Finsler (the author of the present tome).

Then appears an index of Zwingli’s works in alphabetical order; an index of chronological events from Zwingli’s life; an index of particular themes connected to Zwingli’s work; and finally an index arranged chronologically containing all the works in the volume.

This volume is no mean achievement; especially given that it was written long before anyone had access to computers or even modern research tools.  It was, in sum, all done ‘by hand’ and is a miracle accomplishment.

This tool is an important, indeed a critical work which needs to sit on the shelves of every research library.  Allow me to be personal and address you familiarly for a moment: if your library doesn’t have a copy of this book, tell your librarian that it must be ordered.

And then use it.


Today With Zwingli: A Letter of Assurance

On 8 March, 1525, in the midst of the controversy with the Re-Baptizing radicals Zwingli wrote a letter to a fellow named Jodocus Hesch.  In it, he confirms his brotherly affection for Hesch and insists that that affection won’t be affected by anything he might hear by word or letter.

Quam equidem conditionem sic tecum subiturus sum, ut nulla sit unquam ętas de perfidia nostra querimoniam ullam habitura; pollicere igitur de nobis non uti de reconciliato hoste, sed uti de fratre, quocum nulla unquam offensio intercessit. Que praesentium lator ad nos attulit, optime curata sunt. Verum, heus tu, senatus noster indubiemaiorem fidem servaturus est, quam ulle possent litere, presertim hoc rerum statu, quo, si vel iota unum excideret [Matth. 5. 18], fieret tota Ilias. Ut ergo amicum ad nos misisti nullis munitum pignoribus, quod equidem pro maximo pignore puto, vis enim tibi fidem haberi, id quod purę plerumque consciencie postulant: sic et nos eundem carissimum et fidelissimum fratrem nostrum ad te remittimus, qui ore ad os, quod dicitur, omnia non modo referet, sed etiam aget tecum.

When Zwingli was your friend, he was loyal to the end.  When he wasn’t… well…

Anna Zwingli Laments Her Husband

Schaff writes of Anna Zwingli’s reaction to Huldrych’s death:

Der armen Frow Zwinglin Klag, published in the “Alpenrosen,” Bern, 1820, p. 273; in Zwingli’s Werke, II. B. 281; also in Christoffel, I. 413, and Moerikofer, II. 517. After giving vent to her woe, Anna Zwingli resorts to the Bible, which was her husband’s comfort, and was to be hers.  I select the first and the last of the fourteen stanzas of this poem, which Moerikofer numbers among “the imperishable monuments of the great man.”

1. “O Herre Gott, wie heftig shluog Mich dynes Zornes Ruthen!
Du armes Herz, ist’s nit genuog, Kannst du noch nicht verbluoten?
Ich ring die Hand:
Kaem’ doch myn End! Wer nag myn Elendfassen?
Wer misst die Not?
Myn Gott, Myn Gott,
Hast du mich gar verlassen?
14. Komm du, o Buoch du warst syn Hort, Syn Trost in allem Uebel.
Ward er verfolgt mit That und Wort, So griff er nach der Bibel,
Fand Hilf bei ihr.
Herr, zeige mir Die Hilf in Jesu Namen!
Gib Muoth und Staerk
Zum schweren Werk
Dem schwachen Wybe! Amen.”

Zwingli Didn’t Actually Like, or Eat Sausage

Though he didn’t mind others who did…

Cartoon of Reformersvia

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.


Zwingli’s Foreword to the ‘Prophet’s Bible’

On 1 March, 1529,the famous ‘Prophet’s Bible’ was published in Zurich by the printer Froschauer.  Naturally it was Zwingli’s task to write the foreword to a work which the learned clerics at Zurich in the Prophezei had produced.  Zwingli states the project’s rationale as follows:

Es sind gar vil wort by den Ebreern, die, so man sy in tütsch vertolmetschet, ir krafft unnd ducht, ir liebliche und schöne gar verlürend oder ye nitt gnuogsam ußtruckend. Uff das nun in sölichem dem Tütschen nüt manglete unnd der ursprünglichen spraach, in deren die propheten gschriben, eygenschafft und ard wol harfürbracht wurde, habend wir zuo zyten, wo es die not erforderet, annstatt des ebreischen ein anders gschoben, doch ein söliches, das die eigenschafft des ebreischen eygentlich zuo verston gebe.

That’s what translations are supposed to do!


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.

The Woodcuts of the 1531 Zurich Bible

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).

Quote of the Day

Zwingli’s Statue at the Wasserkirche

Even if you hear the gospel of Jesus Christ from an apostle you will not follow it unless the heavenly Father teaches and draws you by his Spirit. The words are clear: God’s teaching clearly enlightens, teaches and gives certainty without any intervention on the part of human knowledge. If people are taught by God they are well taught with clarity and conviction. If they had first to be taught and assured by men, they would be more correctly described as men-taught rather than taught by God.– Huldrych Zwingli

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.”