Zwingli God’s Armed Prophet F. Bruce Gordon

Publication date:
26 Oct 2021
Yale University Press
376 pages: 235 x 156mm
26 color illus. + 2 maps
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A major new biography of Huldrych Zwingli—the warrior preacher who shaped the early Reformation

Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531) was the most significant early reformer after Martin Luther. As the architect of the Reformation in Switzerland, he created the Reformed tradition later inherited by John Calvin. His movement ultimately became a global religion. A visionary of a new society, Zwingli was also a divisive and fiercely radical figure.
Bruce Gordon presents a fresh interpretation of the early Reformation and the key role played by Zwingli. A charismatic preacher and politician, Zwingli transformed church and society in Zurich and inspired supporters throughout Europe. Yet, Gordon shows, he was seen as an agitator and heretic by many and his bellicose, unyielding efforts to realize his vision would prove his undoing. Unable to control the movement he had launched, Zwingli died on the battlefield fighting his Catholic opponents.

Bruce Gordon is Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale University. He has written widely on early modern history and religion. He is the author of Calvin, The Swiss Reformation, and John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.

“Gordon’s engagingly readable new life aims to give the half-remembered Zwingli his due. It is appropriately empathetic, but never hagiographical...Gordon succeeds wonderfully in locating Zwingli within a network of personal and theological relationships, and within the culture and values of the world he inhabited.”—Peter Marshall, Literary Review

“Zwingli shaped the reformed tradition just as much as the better-known Calvin, and yet we know so much less about him. The first of the Reformers to marry, he famously died on the battlefield – as Luther gloated, a man of God slain by the sword. This powerful biography brings Zwingli to life. It sets him amongst his contemporaries, placing us alongside the dilemmas he faced. Gordon shows us a remarkable man and a Reformation driven by friendships, yet riven by hatreds.”—Lyndal Roper, author of Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet

“Gordon’s absorbing portrait of Huldrych Zwingli successfully removes the varnish of centuries to reveal the contrasting colours of the often-ignored Swiss Reformer. God’s Armed Prophet, he fought his opponents and found the arguments for religious changes whose radicality would indelibly mark the Protestant Reformation, with lessons for our own age.”—Mark Greengrass, author of Christendom Destroyed

“This brilliant biography makes Zwingli come alive, and sets his life in the larger context of the Protestant Reformation with verve, highlighting his larger significance while never losing sight of the details that make him unique.  A masterful blend of narrative and analysis, based on painstaking research, especially in Zwingli’s correspondence, this biography breaks new ground expanding and deepening our understanding of one of the most significant figures in early modern history.”—Carlos Eire, author of Reformations


“Many of us have waited a long time for a new biography of Zwingli and this book by Bruce Gordon has made it well worth the wait. It is both a sensitive and informative telling of his life and work but it is more than that. It is full of details that enliven the story and bring out the humanity and commitments of the Swiss Reformer. His importance for the reformation can no longer play second fiddle to Calvin.”—Scott H. Hendrix, author of Martin Luther