Category Archives: Zwingli

#ICYMI – The Full Text of My ‘Reformation Day’ Post

The good folk at Logos asked if I might write a brief piece on the Reformers in preparation for ‘Reformation Day’ way back in 2012.  They published my piece back then, in an edited version (shortened).  Naturally they are free to edit as they see fit and I’m happy enough with the result.

Nonetheless- here’s the full piece:

‘Reformation Day?  No!’

‘The Reformation’ is a misnomer if ever there were one, for in fact there was no ‘one’ Reformation any more than there was just one Reformer. ‘The Reformation’, when used by students and the general public, usually refers to the Reformation of Martin Luther which commenced at the end of October in the year of our Lord, 1517.

Even then, though, Luther’s intent wasn’t as earth-shattering as later ages took it to be. For Luther, the placement of a series of theses in Latin on the Church Door at Wittenberg Castle was nothing more than an invitation to debate. In other words, Luther didn’t see his act as the commencement of a revolution; he saw it as an academic exercise.

‘The Reformation’ is, then, little more than a label derived from historical hindsight gazing mono-focularly at a series of events over a period of time across a wide geographical landscape. Each Reformer had roots sunk in fertile ground and their work was simply the coming to fruition of generations of shift in the Roman Catholic Church.

Hence, it would be more appropriate to speak of ‘Reformations’ in the same way that we now speak of ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Christianities’. The Reformation was no monolith.

Who, then were the Reformers who gave birth to the Reformations most closely associated with them? They were Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, in just that order.

In 1515 while he was Pastor of the village Church in Glarus, Huldrych Zwingli began to call into question the dependence of the Church on the teachings of the Scholastics. He also questioned the value of the Vulgate for preaching and began earnest study of the Greek New Testament. There, memorizing the letters of Paul (in Greek) he discovered the Gospel which would come to feature so prominently in his Reforming efforts: Salvation is by grace, through faith, and not through works as proclaimed by the Scholastic theologians. By 1519, when he moved to Zurich to become the Pastor of the Great Minster, Zwingli was already well on his way to Reforming the worship of the Church and the administration of the ‘Sacraments’. In short order, within a few years, the Mass was abandoned and replaced by the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and the fixation of the Church on images was denounced and those images removed in due course.

Zwingli’s Reformation was carried out with the cooperation of the City government, which is why Zwingli, along with Luther and Calvin, were to be known to history as ‘Magisterial Reformers’. Not because they were ‘Magisterial’ but because each had the support of their city’s magistrates.

North of Zurich, in Wittenberg, Luther’s Reformatory efforts were coming to full steam around the same time. In 1520 he broke with Rome irrevocably with the publication of his stunning ‘On The Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. From there, there was to be no turning back. And here we must remind ourselves that at this juncture Luther was not dependent on the work of Zwingli, nor was Zwingli dependent on the work of Luther. Both were pursuing reform along parallel tracks, separately.

Further to the West of Switzerland a decade later John Calvin, an exile from France, a lawyer by training and a theologian by training and desire, began his own efforts at Reform. Several years after Zwingli’s death and long after Luther’s demise Calvin plodded away in Geneva attempting manfully to bring that raucous city to heel under the power of the Gospel.

Each of these Reformers were ‘Fathers’ of their own Reformation. Each was, originally, independent of the other and in many ways they tried very hard to retain that independence even when their common foe, the Church of Rome, was the target as their common enemy. Each contributed to ‘The Reformation’ in their own unique way.

If, then, we wish to honor their memory and their efforts, it behooves us to set aside our preconceptions or our beliefs that ‘The Reformation’ began on October 31, 1517. It didn’t. It began in 1515 in Glarus. And it began in 1517 in Wittenberg. And it began in Geneva in 1536.

Happy Reformations Days.

Notae Zuinglii. Randbemerkungen Zwinglis zu den Marburger Artikeln von 1529

On 24 October, 1529, Zwingli published his edition of the Marburg Articles – along with marginal notes of his own. It’s intriguing in that it allows readers to see what Zwingli thought of each article, in his own words along with the finalized agreed-upon edition which the participants signed. The title of the FlugschriftNotae Zuinglii. Randbemerkungen Zwinglis zu den Marburger Artikeln von 1529.

So, for example, on the critical Article 15 (on the Supper)

[Zu Artikel 15 am Rand:] Nachtmal: Sic nos appellamus. Inferiores vocant sacrament des altars. Sacrament des waren, etc.: Sacramentum signum est veri corporis, etc. Non est igitur verum corpus. Fürnemlich: Principalis est manducatio spiritualis. In hac consentimus. Caput ergo religionis est salvum. Das wort von gott geben: hoc est, quomodo Christus suis verbis instituit. Hic religio monet, ne verba Christi velimus contemnere, sed illis uti quomodo hactenus usi sumus, deinde et mortem domini annunciare [vgl. 1.Kor.11,26]. Die gwüssen zuo glouben zuo bewegen: verbo scilicet domini passionis. Illud enim in hoc predicatur, ut sciamus, deum nobis esse propitium, quandoquidem filium suum pro nobis in mortem tradidit. Sed solus spiritus sanctus est, qui corda illuminat et per fidem iustificat. Idcirco in huiusmodi semper curavimus addi expositionem, qua intelligatur, fidem a solo deo esse. Est igitur huius loci sensus, usum sacramenti huius servari debere, quomodo Christus instituit. Instituit autem, ut memores simus, hoc est, annunciemus mortem eius, hoc est, gratias agamus et laudem demus ac gloriam propter hoc, quod pro nobis est crucifixus ac mortuus. Iam nimirum necessarium est, ut mors domini externo quoque verbo predicetur. Haec predicatio in hoc fit, ut pars confortetur, pars ad fidem informetur. Sed haec omnia non nostro verbo, etiamsi instrumentum sit, sed divina operatione in mentibus hominum perficiuntur.

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



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

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

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

*Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (Heroes of the Reformation; New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901).

#ICYMI – Zwingli to Bugenhagen

Bugenhagen had written Zwingli asking him to clarify his view of the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and on the 23rd of October in 1525 Zwingli obliged with his Responsio ad epistolam Ioannis Bugenhagii.

Peppered with Scriptural proofs, Zwingli shows Bugenhagen in meticulous detail why ‘hoc est’ in the celebration of the body of Christ in the Supper should be understood “significat”. ‘This signifies my body…’ etc.

Here’s a fun section:

Sic ergo didicimus, urgente nos rudium cura, qui non bene norunt, quid tropus significet, quomodo ista vox “est” debeat pro “significat” accipi. Videbam τροπικῶς dictum esse “hoc est corpus meum” [Luc. 22. 19], sed in qua voce tropus lateret, non videbam. Ibi dei munere factum est, ut duo quidam et pii et docti homines, quorum etiamnum tacebo nomina, ad Leonem nostrum et me conferendi de hoc argumento causa venirent; cumque nostram hac in re sententiam audirent, gratias egerunt deo (suam enim ipsi celabant, quod tum non erat tutum cuique communicare, quod in hac re sentiret), ac epistolam istam cuiusdam et docti et pii Batavi, quae iam excusa est anonyma, soluta sarcina communicarunt. In ea foelicem hanc margaritam “est” pro “significat” hic accipi inveni.

Zwingli’s view persuaded many but it didn’t persuade Luther or the other Catholics of Luther’s mindset. It never could, because Luther was far too chained to his mystical past. Or, as Zwingli puts it in his colorful conclusion-

Non potest ex integro antichristus profligari, nisi et hoc errore labefactato corruat. Spectemus veri ante omnia faciem, non autoritatem hominum, quae nihil valere debet, ubi veritas illuxit.

That delightful phrase could be repeated daily concerning so many…

Translating Zwingli’s 16th Century Swiss German into English: An Observation

I’m working on a translation of one of Zwingli’s works and I think that the best way to explain what it’s like to render Zwingli’s dialect into English is to liken it to putting square pegs (that dialect) into round holes (English).

It’s no wonder at all that Luther couldn’t make heads or tails of it and the two had to converse in Latin at the Marburg Colloquy.

I’m kind of wishing that Zwingli had written everything in Latin…

That said, his German is so amazingly nuanced and expressive.  It’s no wonder the people of Zurich clung to his every word.  It’s also no wonder that so few of his German texts have found their way into English.  My word….

In Which Zwingli Is Asked About Rumors of Promiscuity

On 19 October, 1522 the Cantonal Clerk of Schwyz wrote Zwingli the following letter in which he relates to Zwingli various charges of promiscuity which are swirling around concerning him (along with other matters).  The letter is quite respectful and it is very clear that the Clerk doesn’t believe the charges, but wishes to have Zwingli’s response in order to silence his enemies.

Min früntlichen gruoß, heyll unnd alles guot wünsch ich üch in Cristo Jhesu, unnßerm herren.

Nachdem unnd ich ein besundern gunst zuo mier tragende von üch gespürt hab alls “Ein getrüwe warnung, unßer vatterlandt z ͦbeschirmen” von üch insunders enpfieng, darab ich nit wenig erfröwt, üch des billich hochen danck sag; dann es, ob gott will, so vyll unnd mier müglich, sin krafft unnd die meinig, dorum es erdicht, in mier würcklich handlen soll. Unnd so dann ich yetzo kurtz vergangner zytt durch ettliche priester, min Der Schreiber gibt u (im Anlaut v) und seinen Umlaut, ebenso uo und seinen Umlaut durch dasselbe Zeichen wieder, gewöhnlich durch ü resp. ü. In unserm Abdruck  sind beide auf Grund der Etymologie auseinander gehalten.

Zweifelhafte Fälle: dürch, brüder, hinderrücks, pfründen, anthwürt.  guot günner, gereitzt, minem allten fürnemen abzuostan, unnd mich ettlicher maß uff die evangelische ler unnd meining alls den rechten weg der selikeytt gebogen, deßhalb mir ettliche kleine büchly unnd ermanungen, mich darin zuo erlernen unnd erlustigen, in min huß getragen, unnd namlich eins durch üch gebredigott unnd den erwirdigen geistlichen frowen zuo Zürich  in Ödembach zuogeschribenn, vom großen münster am vj. tag Septembris in dißem jar, wysende “Don der klarheit unnd krafft deß wortz gottes” etc.; unnd so me ich mich darin ersuoch unnd befindt der frucht, ye me min sell enzünt wirt nach denen geistlichen lustbarkeitten hungerig zuo sin unnd durst zuo haben nach den himelschen ergetzlikeyttenn: vermag ich durch mich selbs nitt, sunder bin in hoffnung, der allmechtig habmich darzuo gezogen; dann ich dißn dingen hievor unverstanden widerfacht gentzlich davon nüt hörren wollt.

Harum, lieber bruoder in Cristo, lassendt üch min frävelheit, an üch zuo schriben, nit wunder nemen; dwyl unns doch angeborn, zuoflucht zuo haben an die end, dahar er sich allermerst trostz versicht. Ist kein wunder, das ich harinn zuo üch besunder zuokerren; dann alls ich üch vor ettwas jaren necher dann yetz gesessen, schampt ich mich nit, üch anzuorüffen um hillff, mier unnd minen kinden zitlichen hunger abzuowenden, darin ich von üch gantz unverlaßen, sunder millte hanntreichung täglich enpfieng, um weliches guot üch gott widergellt thüy etc. So das um den zyttlichen hunger beschechen, den mier gott durch sin gnad abgestellt – dem lob sy in ewikeyt – wie vyl mer soll ich mich trostz zuo üch versechen um den hunger miner seel, dwyll unnd ich weißt [!] üwer gröste neigung unnd begirlich fröid sin, die Cristen zuo furen uff den weg warer cristenlicher liebe.

Dwyll unnd wier dann alle glider sind in Cristo Jesu, unnßerm houpt, verhoff ich, min hunger sölle üch wie mier angelegen sin; deßhalb ich üch vermanen unnd bitten in Cristo Jhesu, unnßerm lieben herren, dwyll unnd mich gott durch sin sunder gnad mit kranckheit angeregt, ouch ich mins amptz halber so vyll beladen, das ich an die ortt und end, da man semlich ding veyll hatt, nitt kommen kan, das yer mier semliche liebliche bücher, die yer erkennennt mier aller bequemost sin zuo der liebe gotz unnd cristenlichen leben; dann ich darzuo ein semliche neigung gewunnen, das mier nüt me angenemers ist, dann in sölichen cristenlichen dingen mich zuo erlernen unnd leßen, zuo frucht mier unnd minem hußfölckly unnd allen denen, so darzuo neigung haben.

Hierin wellindt mich in brüderlicher trüw bevolhen haben, mier semliche bücher ußzuozüchen unnd mier zuo schicken mit schrifftlichem bericht, was sy kosten; will ich dorum by cristenlicher trüw früntlich bezalung thuon etc. Dwyll unnd ich dann ein besundere früntliche neigung zuo üch hab, deßhalb ich ungern hör ützit ungerattes von üch sagen, mag ich nit verhallten die schmach, so üch hinderrucks um der warheit willen zuogelegt: zum ersten, so fließen üwer bredigen nit uß guotem grundt, sunder uß nid unnd haß, syendt leckersbuoben; zum andern so schelltendt unnd schmützent yer nun die geistlichen oberkeytt, worum nit ouch den keyßer unnd die welltlichen fürsten? dorum daß sy üch beschirment; zum dritten, dwyll unnd yer das evangelium so lutter wellint machen, gepürte es, das yer im ouch nachleptindt (möcht davon ein yeder bewegt werden, üch nachzuovollgen!); so aber yer überflüssiger in buobery dann ander lebendt, sy ein zeichen üwer unwarheit.

Das regt nun üwer person allein nit an, aber dis: ier habendt zwo oder dry pfruonden erbredigot, das yer deßter mer huoren gehaben mögent unnd deßter baß üwer pracht mit tantzen, pfiffen, singen, seittenspil gehaben mügt, etc. Unnd so man semlich reden zuo vyll malen brucht unnd durch vyll personen gesagt, so der warheit widerfechten, um daß sis nit mögen erliden, begerte ich, yer welltendt mich zimlicher anthwurt hieruff zuo geben berichten, wo ich semlichs oder derglichen mer hörren wurde, semlichs von mier in keiner andern meinig dann in cristenlicher  trüw zuo vermercken, damit yer unnd ich die warheit deßter baß beschirmen  mögen.

Hiemit bevilch ich mich üch in cristenlicher brüderlicher trüw nach minem vertruwen. Hiemit wellindt mier ouch sagen min dienst unnd gruotz  bruoder Cuonratten zuo Küßnacht. Beger hierin früntlich anthwurt, so  erst das sin mag.

Datum Schwytz am 19. Octobris a 15xxij. üwer underteniger Balltassar Stapfer,  lanndtschriber zuo Schwytz.

Dem erwürdigen wollgelerten geistlichen herren Huldrichen Zwingly,  lüpriester zuo Zürch bim grossen münster,  minem gnädigen lieben herren unnd cristenlichen bruoder.

Zwingli’s full response is lost.  What a tragedy.

Today With Zwingli

His friend Oecolampadius sent this little letter on 18 October, 1525.  Per usual when the two friends wrote each other, the letter has gossip aplenty (or, maybe news, right?  Because gossip makes them sound so British) and book talk.  Book talk, can you imagine?  These two are always talking about books.

oeco24S. mi frater Erasmus certo scribere dicitur. Ambrosium “De sacramentis” ut persuadent Frobeniani, commendabit, quem ipse nunquam pro Ambrosii libro habuit. Quid si per opportunitatem et tu convinceres illum non esse eius authoris, cui dissimillimus est? At quid si etiam aberrarit? Multi se nobis opponent, quantum intelligo; proinde magna fiducia in dominum alacriter ad ea, quę ante nos sunt, procedamus [Phil. 3. 13]. Mitto tibi Nordlingiacensis literas, qui aliquanto mitigatior videtur, tametsi nescio quid suboleam. Tertullianum vult suarum partium. Strussius vult missum faciamus hominum doctrinas, quasi vero illis potius quam verbo dei credamus. Fac, ut quamprimum habeam ea, quae Pomerano respondisti; nam et nos unum atque alterum excipiemus iratorum istorum, ubi in lucem prodierint. Ludovicus Hezerus te salutat. Vertit librum nostrum. Id quod non iussi nec prohibui. Approbabo tamen, zwinglisi quidem adversariis molestum erit, quod populo fumos suos prodi vident. Fortassis apud vos curabit excudi. Nollem tamen publice divulgatum, quod domi meę transferatur liber.
Vale, bona spe domino serviens.

Basileę altera post Galli.
Tuus Oecolampadius.

Huldrico Zwinglio, Tigurinorum pastori fidelissimo, suo fratri.


Today With Zwingli: Writing a Friend

At the end of a letter discussing such fun theological topics as ‘synechdoche’, Zwingli makes this interesting remark about the Eucharist-

In eucharistiae re gratulor vobis, te nostrum esse factum. Verum gratiam meretur novitas; brevi enim spero omnes, qui adhuc obstrepunt, tropum, qui nullo negocio videri vobis debebat, visuros esse, ac sententiae nostrae simplicitatem ac claritatem. Una est spiritualis manducatio, quo filio dei, pro nobis delitato, fidimus, non duę; quarum altera nescio quod verborum figmentum prodimus, carnaliter, corporaliter, spiritualiter.

That kernal of thought would bear fruit in 1529.  And forever after.

The Zwingli Film Will Be on TV

If you’re in Germany

„Zwingli – Der Reformator“, 3sat, 22.10.2021, 20.15 Uhr


Zwingli: On the Perpetrators of Fraud

If it is found that he [i.e., someone] has gained his ends fraude egisse, i.e., by fraud, one owes him no more than the Romans did Jugurtha, who by means of bribes sought to have the murder of his own brothers entirely disregarded, of which he boasted openly when leaving Rome, saying: “Oh this venal city! A merchant could attain anything he pleased if he only had enough money”; and in fact Jugurtha could have proved the truth of his own words if the upright Metellus Numidicus had not defeated and overthrown him on several occasions and thus seriously injured his cause; for too long a period had Jugurtha bred treachery in Rome by means of his money. And finally he fell into the hands of the Romans. Thus, in accordance with the proverb, “deceit turns upon its own creator,” and it is well thus when someone attempts to commit treachery and does something behind the back of upright people. — Huldrych Zwingli

The Re-Baptizers Annoyed Zwingli

So he wrote them-

“Hundreds of times I have said openly, ‘I beseech you by Jesus Christ, by our common faith, not to make any change rashly, but to show to all men by your endurance, if in no other way, that you are Christians, in that on account of the weak you bear things that by Christ’s law you do not need to bear.’ ”

Or in other words, calm down and let things develop naturally rather than forcing your views at the point of open warfare, you idiots.

Zwingli: The Smartest Guy in the Room

zwingli_marignanoIt is a great work to believe that Christ, nailed to the cross, is the Son of God. That this is the work of God, Christ Himself testified, Jn. 6:29: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” As many, then, as trust in Christ are built upon a rock, which no blasts of winds can shake, no inundating floods wash away. And as many as are built upon this are the church of Christ, for He Himself said “my.” But His church cannot be impure and wrinkled. Therefore it follows that those who trust in Christ are without spot and without wrinkle, for they summon up all their zeal to the end that they may not fall back into sin, in which beforetime they were dead, Rom. 6:2. But they who do not this utter noble thunderings with their lips, but by their deeds betray Christ, with the result that through them the name of God is in bad repute.

This is the church that cannot err—an attribute which the pontiffs arrogate to themselves with as much falseness as impudence. For this church rests upon the word of God alone, which is so firm and immovable that heaven and earth must pass away sooner than one jot of it [Mt. 5:18]. On the contrary, the church of the pontiffs rests upon its own word. They run, indeed, as if they had been sent by the Lord, but they speak visions, that is, things pleasing to their own heart [Jer. 23:16]. Hence they spread nothing but darkness before poor wretches’ eyes.

On the Anniversary of Zwingli’s Death… His Major Writings

Over at Logos

It’s surprising that Huldrych Zwingli isn’t better known. Zwingli, a contemporary of Martin Luther’s, was an important figure in the Swiss Reformation.

No kidding!  It is surprising that he isn’t better known.  He should be as well known as Luther and Calvin (and one of my life-goals is to make sure he is).

So, go right now and order this 7 volume set.  You won’t regret it.  And you will even notice that one of the volumes is by someone you know.  That’s right.  Go now and if you don’t want it for yourself get it for your Pastor.  Don’t allow him to wallow in ignorance one more day.

On The Anniversary of Zwingli’s Death Each Year…

That is, on 11 October, this is the passage read:

Schau herab vom Himmel und sieh herab von der Wohnung deiner Heiligkeit und deiner Herrlichkeit! Wo sind dein Eifer und deine Kraft? Das Aufwallen deiner Gefühle und dein Erbarmen – mir hast du es nicht gezeigt.  Du bist doch unser Vater! Abraham hat nichts von uns gewusst, und Israel kennt uns nicht. Du, HERR, bist unser Vater, Unser-Erlöser-seit-uralten-Zeiten ist dein Name.

Warum, HERR, lässt du uns umherirren, fern von deinen Wegen, verhärtest unser Herz, so dass wir dich nicht fürchten? Kehre zurück um deiner Diener, um der Stämme deines Erbbesitzes willen.  Für eine kurze Zeit haben sie dein heiliges Volk enteignet, dein Heiligtum haben unsere Feinde zertreten.  Wir sind wie die geworden, über die du nie geherrscht hast, über denen dein Name nicht ausgerufen wurde. Hättest du doch schon den Himmel zerrissen, wärst schon herabgestiegen, so dass die Berge vor dir erbebt wären,  (Isa 63:15-19 ZUR)

Luther Was Glad When He Heard of Zwingli’s Death- Because He Hated Him

In a most enlightening footnote, Schaff writes

The deepest ground of Luther’s aversion to Zwingli must be sought in his mysticism and veneration for what he conceived to be the unbroken faith of the Church. He strikingly expressed this in his letter to Duke Albrecht of Prussia (which might easily be turned into a powerful argument against the Reformation itself).

He went so far as to call Zwingli a non-Christian (Unchrist), and ten times worse than a papist (March, 1528, in his Great Confession on the Lord’s Supper). His personal interview with him at Marburg (October, 1529) produced no change, but rather intensified his dislike.

He saw in the heroic death of Zwingli and the defeat of the Zurichers at Cappel (1531) a righteous judgment of God, and found fault with the victorious Papists for not exterminating his heresy (Wider etliche Rottengeister, Letter to Albrecht of Prussia, April, 1532, in De Wette’s edition of L. Briefe, Vol. IV. pp. 352, 353).

And even shortly before his death, unnecessarily offended by a new publication of Zwingli’s works, he renewed the eucharistic controversy in his Short Confession on the Lord’s Supper (1544, in Welch’s edition, Vol. XX. p. 2195), in which he abused Zwingli and Oecolampadius as heretics, liars, and murderers of souls, and calls the Reformed generally ‘eingeteufelte [ἐνδιαβολισθέντες], durchteufelte, überteufelte lästerliche Herzen und Lügenmäuler.’ No wonder that even the gentle Melanchthon called this a ‘most atrocious book,’ and gave up all hope for union (letter to Bullinger, Aug. 30, 1544, in Corp. Reform. Vol. V. p. 475: ‘Atrocissimum Lutheri scriptum, in quo bellum περὶ δείπνου κυριακοῦ instaurat;’ comp. also his letter to Bucer, Aug. 28, 1544, in Corp. Reform. Vol. V. p. 474, both quoted also by Gieseler, Vol. IV. p. 412, note 38, and p. 434, note 37).*

You should always read the footnotes.  Luther could be the vilest of men, offensive even to his closest friends- and not just in his attitude towards the Jews.  Equally vile are all the modern haters of Zwingli, because they hate him without cause.  And nothing is more vile, more wicked, and more un-christian than hating someone with whom you aren’t even really familiar.

*The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds (Vol. 1).

Zwingli the Translator

Worth remembering ozwingli_laptopn the anniversary of his vicious murder- Zwingli was a scholar who translated the Bible.

There’s a great little essay in Nota Bene that you ought to take a look at.  It’s about Zwingli and the Bible translation and exposition he did.  It’s grandly done.

A Gallery of Zwingli’s Passing

Where Did People Get the Idea That Zwingli Died Fighting?

Certainly not from first hand evidence or witnesses on the scene, all of whom assert that Zwingli died never having drawn a weapon.  So where did the idea that he was hacking away at Zurich’s enemies and died fighting come from?  From Luther, of course, whose hatred of Zwingli so colored his vision that he felt secure in making up things to suit his view-

“Zwingli drew his sword. Therefore he has received the reward that Christ spoke of, ‘All who take the sword will perish by the sword’ [Matt. 26:52]. If God has saved him, he has done so above and beyond the rule.”

No, he didn’t.  But Luther had a text in hand (Mt 26) and he used it to his advantage.  Zwingli was dead so he must have drawn his sword, runs Luther’s reasoning.


“The end of all heresy is the sword. We see this in the case of the pope, Münzer, Zwingli, the Arians, etc. They all started out [with a certain show of piety], but in the end they were driven to the sword. They were at first not wanting in the will [to carry out their intentions] but they didn’t have the opportunity. Satan, as Paul said, can’t deny himself. He must show himself to be a liar and murderer. Moreover, I think that Cain’s death also caused a great outcry. They said, ‘Behold, Lamech has killed our father,’ etc.”


They say that Zwingli recently died thus; if his error had prevailed, we would have perished, and our church with us. It was a judgment of God. That was always a proud people. The others, the papists, will probably also be dealt with by our Lord God.

Luther was so filled with contempt for Zwingli (and the Zurichers) that he was willing to invent the story of Zwingli dying as a combatant. The historical facts indicate otherwise (as anyone familiar with them knows).

Zwingli certainly wore a helmet and he had a sword strapped to his side (as all Swiss did on the field of battle).  But his was a ceremonial sword.  He was a chaplain ministering to the troops, not a combatant engaged in killing.  He despised war and had since 1515 when he saw it first hand at the Battle of Marignano.  Don’t accept Luther’s badly colored view.  His eyes were blinded by the blackness of contempt.

It’s The Anniversary of Zwingli’s Death

So here it is, once more- Bullinger’s account:

On the battlefield, not far from the line of attack, Mr. Ulrich Zwingli lay under the dead and wounded. While men were looting . . . he was still alive, lying on his back, with his hands together as if he was praying, and his eyes looking upwards to heaven. So some approached who did not know him and asked him, since he was so weak and close to death (for he had fallen in combat and was stricken with a mortal wound), whether a priest should be fetched to hear his confession. Thereat Zwingli shook his head, said nothing and looked up to heaven. Later they told him that if he was no longer able to speak or confess he should yet have the mother of God in his heart and call on the beloved saints to plead to God for grace on his behalf. Again Zwingli shook his head and continued gazing straight up to heaven. At this the Catholics grew impatient, cursed him and said that he was one of the obstinate cantankerous heretics and should get what he deserved. Then Captain Fuckinger of Unterwalden appeared and in exasperation drew his sword and gave Zwingli a thrust from which he at once died. So the renowned Mr. Ulrich Zwingli, true minister and servant of the churches of Zurich, was found wounded on the battlefield along with his flock (with whom he remained until his death). There, because of his confession of the true faith in Christ, our only savior, the mediator and advocate of all believers, he was killed by a captain who was a pensioner, one of those against whom he had always preached so eloquently. . . .

The crowd then [Oct. 12] spread it abroad throughout the camp that anyone who wanted to denounce Zwingli as a heretic and betrayer of a pious confederation should come onto the battlefield. There, with great contempt, they set up a court of injustice on Zwingli which decided that his body should be quartered and the portions burned. All this was carried into effect by the executioner from Lucerne with abundance of abuse; among other things he said that although some had asserted that Zwingli was a sick man he had in fact never seen a more healthy-looking body.

They threw into the fire the entrails of some pigs that had been slaughtered the previous night and then they turned over the embers so that the pigs’ offal was mixed with Zwingli’s ashes. This was done close to the high road to Scheuren.

Verdicts on Zwingli from scholars and ignorant alike were varied. All those who knew him were constant in their praises. Even so there were still more who were critical either because they really did not know him or, if they had known him a little, were determined to show their resentment and spoke ill of him. (Janz, A Reformation reader : Primary texts with introductions.)

Listen to Peter Opitz’s Lecture on Zwingli


Or here directly-

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