Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Zwingli and divine accommodation

Most are aware of what Calvin wrote about divine accommodation:

“For who even of slight intelligence does not understand that, as nurses commonly do with infants, god is wont in a measure to ‘lisp’ in speaking to us? Thus such forms of speaking do not so much express clearly what God is like as accommodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity. To do this he must descend far beneath his loftiness.” (Institutes I.13.1)
Where did Calvin get this idea from? Huijgen suggests from Erasmus – “Divine Accommodation” p123.

But what about this quote from Zwingli from his “Friendly Exegesis” sent to Luther in 1527? He is trying to get Luther to understand the use of tropes and other figures of speech in Scripture

“But before I undertake the explanation of the words of the Lord, I shall have to say a few words upon the collation of the Scriptures, namely, that after the human tongue began, by means of tropes and figures and varieties of expression, to season its speech with sweet smelling spices, or paint it with varying hues, as it were, then the divine Goodness (which everywhere babbles to us like parents to their infants, and uses our own language), condescended in talking with us, to use our own tropes and figures.” H Wayne Pipkin “Huldrych Zwingli Writings” Vol 2, p350

Antequam autem ad verborum domini expositionem accedamus, paucula nobis de scripturarum collatione praemittenda erunt; ista videlicet, quod posteaquam humanum os coepit tropis, figuris ac locutionibus orationem veluti odoribus aut pigmentis condere et variegare, divinam quoque bonitatem (quae ubique parentum instar nobiscum balbutit linguaque nostra loquitur) huc sese demisisse, ut et ipsa nobiscum loquens tropis ac schęmatismis nostris uteretur.

(Amica Exegesis, id est: expositio eucharistiae negocii ad Martinum Lutherum

8. Februar 1527
Huldreich Zwinglis sämtliche Werke, vol. 5 (Leipzig: Heinsius, 1934) (Corpus Reformatorum 92))