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Debating the SacramentsPrint and Authority in the Early Reformation$
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Amy Nelson Burnett

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190921187

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190921187.001.0001

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Undermining Oecolampadius

Undermining Oecolampadius

The Debate with Pirckheimer

Chapter:
(p.158) 8 Undermining Oecolampadius
Source:
Debating the Sacraments
Author(s):

Amy Nelson Burnett

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190921187.003.0008

The published exchange of pamphlets between Johannes Oecolampadius and the Nuremberg humanist Willibald Pirckheimer pitted two renowned humanists against each other. Whereas other Wittenbergers rejected Oecolampadius’s biblical exegesis, Pirckheimer attacked Oecolampadius’s use of the church fathers, and he skillfully manipulated the debate to draw attention to those fathers who supported his side. Like Luther, Pirckheimer argued that “this is my body” must be understood literally, and that reason must be subordinated to faith. Pirckheimer’s rhetoric and his harsh polemic were intended to establish his superiority to Oecolampadius and undermine his opponent’s ethos or character and his credibility. Oecolampadius’s responses to Pirckheimer were also rhetorically shaped, but the Basler could not match Pirckheimer’s superior social position. Their exchange highlights the importance of nontheological factors in shaping the controversy.

Keywords:   Johannes Oecolampadius, Willibald Pirckheimer, church father, rhetoric, ethos

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