Humor of Huldrych Zwingli

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Huldrych Zwingli, the “third man of the Reformation,” is generally remembered as a stern, abrupt and solemn individual. This characterization was proven wrong with the publication of Fritz Schmidt-Clausing’s volume on the humor of Zwingli (Otto Lembeck Verlag, 1968). This volume, long out of print, is now offered again in a bilingual German/English edition, making Zwingli’s humorous remarks, anecdotes, and stories accessible to students, scholars and interested laypersons once again.


“The world of learning is fortunately indivisible. As Director of the Institute for Swiss Reformation History at the University of Zurich I’m glad to congratulate Dr. Jim West who, on the other side of the Atlantic, has taken the initiative to republish and translate Fritz Schmidt-Clausing’s booklet on Zwingli’s Humor. I find in it authentic light as I peer among the shadows which hide the past from us.” - Dr. Emidio Campi, Director of the Institute for Swiss Reformation History , Professor of Church History, University of Zurich

“Zwingli, with the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other - this caricature from the 19th century is still popular. [This book] presents us with another side of the Swiss reformer: Zwingli the linguistically skilled humanist, the speaker, who is familiar with the language of the common people, the satirist, and a man who is able to laugh at himself. It is the merit of Dr. Jim West’s re-edition and translation of a forgotten book, by which we are reminded of this important characteristic of a father of the Reformed tradition. But more than that, Zwingli’s humor is rooted in his faith: ‘I laugh because of a certain, unfailing confidence in God and his truth.’ This kind of humor is always needed.” - Dr. Peter Opitz, Institute for Swiss Reformation History, Professor of Church History, University of Zurich

“If any had imagined Zwingli as a straight-faced, humanist dogmatician and dull producer of theological fossils, this is the book to set things straight; it reconnects us with the real Reformer, with a man of deep theological energy and pastoral concern often delivered in the shape of biting wit, creative puns and a variety of other hilarious forms. In other words, this is a man we can identify with, making him appear all the more as someone worthy of out study and interest. Dr. West has done us all a service in not only producing a long-needed republication of the Schmidt-Clausing text, but his translation helps make the sometimes complex idiomatic German word-plays accessible to English-language readers.” - Chris Tilling, London School of Theology

Table of Contents

Translator’s Preface
Foreword by Matthias Freudenberg
1 So That We Understand Quite Clearly
2 Humor from Faith
3 In the Service of Seriousness
4 Scolding and Spoofing
5 Playing with Names
6 Satiric Fables
7 Irony
8 Ritual Irony
9 Self-Irony
10 Puns
11 Mockery
12 Nicely Said
13 The Epilogue

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