A History of the Council of Trent: The First Sessions at by Hubert Jedin

By Hubert Jedin

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Although Luther saw the passage in John 6 as unrelated to the Eucharist, Zwingli argued, “When the fathers said that the body of Christ feeds the soul, I understand this to mean the resurrection. ”46 By stating this difference, Zwingli was trying to maneuver Melanchthon’s position closer to his own understanding and farther from Luther’s interpretation. Although Luther dismissed Zwingli’s comment, it nevertheless foreshadowed a conflict that later arose among Lutherans:47 according to Osiander’s report, when Zwingli and Oecolampadius attempted to prove their interpretations by citing the sayings of the fathers instead of the Bible, Luther implored them to do so in an orderly way,48 warning that they should not mingle the two sources, that is, Scripture and church fathers, but refrain from mentioning the fathers until the sacred and divine Scripture had been dealt with first.

The debate over the fathers continued in the Sunday afternoon discussion. When Oecolampadius repeated that the body of Christ is not in the sacrament as in a place and asked how Christ can be there as a body, Luther pressed the issue: “At the beginning of discussion we took Scripture as our basis. Scripture is not against us. You add the fathers; they are not against us either. ”63 When Luther conceded that the Reformed views had Augustine and Fulgentius, but “the remaining fathers are on our side,” Oecolampadius asked him to bring up the fathers who were on the Reformed side.

In subsequent editions of the Institutes, he does not diminish his arguments from Scripture; rather, he adds further support from the fathers, resulting in a more lengthy discussion of the Lord’s Supper and an ever-expanding edition of the Institutes. 1539 Edition Along with other significant changes, Calvin begins to enlist the church fathers for support and confirmation of his views in the 1539 edition of the Institutes. Specifically two ancient figures emerge as positive examples in his discussion on the Lord’s Supper: Augustine, whom he appeals to three times, and Cyril of Alexandria.

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