Monday, January 20, 2020

ASPER'S PORTRAIT OF BULLINGER


The centrality of christology in Bullinger’s thought

The portrait of Bullinger by Hans Asper (dated 1559) gives a clue as to the centrality of christology in Bullinger’s thought. In the portrait, Bullinger is holding a book revealing certain Scripture passages. It’s as if Bullinger challenges the viewer to grasp the significance of the biblical texts chosen and the order in which they are presented.

The portrait has this inscription at the top:

HEINRYCHUS BULLINGERUS
UNDECIMI IAM NUNC LABUNTUR SYDERA LUSTRI
   HAEC AETAS, FORMAM PICTA TABELLA REFERT
        NIL EGO VEL FORMAM VEL VITAE TEMPORA SPECTRO
         SED CHRISTUM, VITAE QUI MIHI FORMA MEAE EST

This inscription is clearly Bullinger’s personal testimony to indicate, at age fifty-five years, to what extent Christ had been formed in him. For him, true life is life that is complete in Christ. The biblical texts in the book are, in order, Matthew 17:5, Colossians 1:19-20, Colossians 2:3. Colossians 2:10. Colossians 2:9 and John 1:16-17. The texts are taken from the Zurich Bible of 1539. Each of these texts have to do with one aspect or Christology or another. Thus, the fact that this portrait displays these chosen texts indicates the centrality of Christology in Bullinger’s thought.

A fuller discussion may be found in Joe Mock, ‘Portrait of Bullinger’s Theology’ Zwingliana, 46 (2019) 29-43.

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