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A minor


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bucer: Critical Appraisals
For what it's worth, here are some quotes from a few of the top Google results for Martin Bucer, with critical appraisals ranging between the more "popular" and the more scholarly:

  • For a clear statement of doctrine he was ever ready to substitute vague formulas in the interest of unity, which even his able efforts could not establish among the Reformers.
    Catholic Encyclopedia, "Martin Bucer"

  • On the question of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, Bucer's opinions were decidedly Zwinglian, being the author of the Tetrapolitan Confession, but he was anxious to maintain church unity with the Lutheran party and constantly endeavoured — especially after Zwingli's death — to formulate a statement of belief that would unite Lutheran, south German and Swiss reformers; hence, the charge of ambiguity and obscurity which has been laid against him.
    Wikipedia, "Martin Bucer"

  • Bucer also spelled Butzer: Protestant Reformer, mediator, and liturgical scholar best known for his ceaseless attempts to make peace between conflicting reform groups. He influenced not only the development of Calvinism but also the liturgical development of the Anglican Communion.
    Encyclopædia Britannica, "Martin Bucer"

  • While all fervently sought the unity of the churches of the Reformation, no one pursued this goal with as much vigor and effort as Martin Bucer, the Reformer of Strassburg. His entire ministry can be characterized as a pursuit of unity.
    Yet, in his zeal to bring unity to the church of Christ, he often sought unacceptable compromises which made true unity impossible. Not only did he wish to bring Lutherans and Calvinists together; he did not even rest in his efforts to unite Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. In his burning zeal for unity, he forgot that unity is essentially a unity of the truth as it is in Christ and revealed in
    the Holy Gospel.
    —Herman Hanko, Portraits of Faithful Saints, Ch. 27, "Martin Bucer: Ecumenist of the Reformation"

  • Whatever views be held of Bucer's efforts for union, especially in the eucharistic controversy, his honest intention and his unselfish zeal to serve the Church are beyond all question. His diplomatic tactics were not always such as to inspire confidence, and they gave offense to other parties besides Luther. Bucer himself felt it afterward and honestly acknowledged that he had not always interfered in a discreet manner. The whole subject of controversy was of less interest for Bucer than for Luther, hence Bucer's readiness to make concessions and ever new formularizations.
    —Philip Schaff, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. II, "edited for greater clarity" by tlolgical.net webmaster John M. Fritzius

  • In consequence, soon the image ensued of Bucer as a spineless and accommodating theologian, more interested in the effectiveness of his conciliatory formulations than in God's revealed truth. [...]
    In a rapidly and thoroughly changing world, Bucer was bent on understanding others and coming to an agreement with them. This was hardly a craving for harmony and appeasement at any, or almost any, price. It is perhaps most fitting to describe Bucer as a theologian of dialogue. This does not mean he was not sure of what he believed. On the contrary, his own theological standpoint was quite clear and firm. But he did not use it primarily to contrast his own position over against that of his opponents, but rather as a point of departure for embarking in an exchange with them.
    —Martin Greschat, Martin Bucer: A Reformer and His Times (Westminster John Knox, 2004), pp 252ff
I'm tempted to try to get copies of Bucer's Latin works and start slowly and painfully trying to translate them (poorly, I'm sure). I do have 30 hours of college Latin, after all, enough for an undergraduate major...might as well put it to some use.

Here's his Opera Latina, published by Brill for eleventy billion dollars:
(But where's Vol. 1? Is it out of print? I see it referenced in this review:

Last but not least, here's a review of the latest and greatest Bucer bibliography:
Unfortunately the bibliography is in German, but the review is in English, by Amy Nelson Burnett, who appears to be the preeminent Bucer scholar in the US. See her list of publications on her Nebraska faculty page:

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