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Zwingli: an Introduction to His Thought.

Stephens here introduces the student and general reader to the important Swiss reformer. While exposing readers to the scholarly issues raised by Zwingli's career and theology, S. provides something of a road map by which the nonexpert can negotiate the rugged terrain of Zwingli studies. Most importantly, he attempts to discuss Zwingli's theology in its historical context. This is particularly useful, because Zwingli, though his body of writings spans less than a decade, underwent significant change during his career.

A brief description of political and ecclesiastical conditions of the Swiss confederacy and the canton of Zurich at the outset of Zwingli's career begins the study. Next S. relates Zwingli's biography, focusing on the influences that created the reformer. Then follow individual chapters on important theological themes of Zwingli's work. A concluding chapter attempts to assess Zwingli as a reformer and address his wider influence.

The thematic-historical approach faithfully relates Zwingli's theological development as it occurred in a context of virulent polemic. The positions of his many opponents receive less careful analysis, due no doubt to the work's brevity and introductory nature. S. notes the importance for Zwingli of his overarching conviction of God's sovereignty. He also stresses the growing importance of covenant in Zwingli's theology, a development shaped by his struggles with Anabaptism and of great significance for later Swiss Protestantism. Another recurrent theme that affects all of Zwingli's theology, and could have benefitted from more sustained treatment, is his Platonism. Platonist assumptions separate Zwingli from Luther and most other Protestant reformers and directly relate to the difficult question of influences on Zwingli and his development as a reformer.
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Author:Grieser, D. Jonathan
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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