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Inventing Authority

The Use of the Church Fathers in Reformation Debates over the Eucharist

Esther Chung-Kim

Publication Year: 2011

Adding great historical insight to the events of the sixteenth century, Inventing Authority uncovers how and why the Protestant reformers came, in their dissent from the Catholic church, to turn to the Church Fathers and align their movements with the early church. Discovering that the reformers most frequently appealed to patristic sources in polemical contexts, Esther Chung-Kim adeptly traces the variety and creativity of their appeals to their forebears in order to support their arguments—citing them to be authoritative for being “exemplary scriptural exegetes” to “instruments of choice.” Examining three generations of sixteenth-century reformers—from such heavy-weights as Calvin and Luther to lesser-known figures like Oecolampadius and Hesshusen—Chung-Kim offers an analysis of striking breadth, one that finds its center by focusing in on the perennially contentious topic of the Eucharist. Filling a significant lacuna in the early history of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions, Inventing Authority is an important and eye-opening contribution to Reformation studies.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Table of Contents

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

I wish to acknowledge with gratitude those who helped clarify and strengthen the argument in the process of going from a doctoral dissertation to a published manuscript. I am particularly grateful to David C. Steinmetz, my advisor at Duke University, whose scholarship and passion for learning continue to stimulate and inspire my own work. I also want to thank the other...

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Introduction: Reformation of the Ancient Tradition, Interpreting the Fathers in the Eucharistic Debates

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pp. 1-13

Any notion of the Protestant Reformation as a religiously homogeneous, anti-establishment, anti-tradition movement is too simplistic. While the Protestant reformers’ conception of sola scriptura established the Bible as the primary standard authorizing Christian theology and practice, they did not conceive of rejecting wholesale the history of the church’s tradition. In fact,...

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1 Colloquy of Marburg (1529), The Fathers as Allies or Liabilities

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pp. 15-32

The purpose of this chapter is to analyze how patristic references supported or challenged views in early Reformation debates over the Lord’s Supper even while Scripture was repeatedly hailed as the primary authority. From the early writings of Martin Luther, Protestant reformers sought to define their views on the Eucharist. Revisions in sacramental theology and ritual ...

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2 John Calvin’s Use of the Fathers in the Institutes and New Testament Commentaries

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pp. 33-57

While the Colloquy of Marburg failed to produce a common doctrine of the Eucharist, in the spring of 1536, Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Johannes Bugenhagen and Martin Bucer (representing the south Germans) negotiated the Wittenberg Concord. This agreement stated that Christ’s body and blood were truly and substantially present and received in the Eucharist,...

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3 John Calvin and Joachim Westphal, First Phase of the Debate (1555–1556)

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pp. 59-74

By the mid-sixteenth century, John Calvin had established himself as the leading pastor of Geneva and one of the international leaders of the Reformed movement. When he initial made some efforts to unify the Lutheran and Reformed churches, he encountered further opposition to his teachings. Meanwhile, as the Lutheran pastor (and later superintendent) of St. Katherine’s Church in Hamburg...

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4 Calvin and Westphal, Continued, Second Phase of the Debate (1557–1558)

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pp. 75-98

For both Calvin and Westphal, citing the fathers was part of an attempt to authorize a new interpretation of the ancient tradition. In the work of reclaiming the tradition of the early church, references to the ancient fathers dramatically increased in the Lutheran–Reformed debates. The reformers argued over the fathers in order to make parts of the ancient tradition the very building blocks...

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5 Calvin versus Hesshusen, The Fathers as a Challenge to Biblical Interpretation

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pp. 99-119

During the second half of the sixteenth century, Lutheran and Reformed groups produced confessions to define their doctrinal identity while various groups worked toward confessional consolidation, which sometimes led to conflict.1 Nowhere is this more evident than in those territories that had first experienced a relatively conservative Lutheran reform...

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6 Use of the Fathers at the Colloquy of Montb

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pp. 121-140

By the time of the Colloquy of Montb

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pp. 141-143

Up to the present, many scholars have argued that the fathers did not have absolute authority for the reformers. This continues to be true, but what needs to be added to this point is that the reformers’ interpretations of the fathers did carry an authority that supported each confessional tradition and excluded others, particularly on divisive issues such as the Eucharist. These newly authorized views set...

Appendix I

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pp. 145-146

Appendix II

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pp. 147-149


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pp. 151


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pp. 153-178


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pp. 179-188


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pp. 189-197

E-ISBN-13: 9781602584716
E-ISBN-10: 1602584710
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602582132
Print-ISBN-10: 1602582130

Page Count: 230
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1st