Book Review: Ulrich Zwingli (Bitesize Biographies)

Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 in Book review, Church History
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ZwingliThis latest addition to the “Bitesize Biographies” series by Evangelical Press will prove to be a beneficial addition to a Reformation library. In Ulrich Zwingli, William Boekestein provides not just a personal biography of the best known Swiss Reformer, but the political, magisterial, economic, educational and religious landscape in Switzerland in particular and in the broader European setting during the time of the Reformation.  It serves then as a brief introduction to the Reformation. He highlights the key relations in Zwingli’s life that helped shape his political and theological thought (Erasmus of Rotterdam, Myconius, Bullinger, Luther, etc.), whether in agreement or in dispute.  Of course, the battle with Roman Catholicism is front and center as Boekestein tells of Zwingli’s powerful expository preaching and gentle shepherding while serving as a priest in Einsiedeln and later as priest and canon in Zurich at the renowned Great Minster Church.

While Boekestein sets forth Zwingli’s emphasis on the centrality of Christ in his ministry, he does not shy away from the pitfalls of Zwingli’s life, specifically his confessed sexual immorality(ies) and his sometimes untimely emphases on certain disputes with Rome (popery, authority of Scripture, Mary, the mass, tithe/indulgences, iconoclasm, etc.) and with others (most notably the Anabaptists and his dispute with Luther).

I would heartily recommend this book for a brief yet thorough life of Zwingli’s influence on the Reformation in Switzerland and Europe. Also of worth are Zwingli’s Sixty-seven Articles (akin to Luther’s Ninety-five Theses) found in the appendix. The spirit of Zwingli is found in his concluding words of those Articles: “Let no one undertake to argue with sophistry or human wisdom, but let Scripture be the judge (Scripture breathes the Spirit of God), so that you can either find the truth or, if you have found it, hold on to it.”

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

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