Clerical discipline and the church synods in Zürich, 1532-1580
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This thesis is an examination of the Synod and its administration of clerical discipline in Zürich between 1532 and 1580. It is an investigation to determine how an early reformed institution implemented the teachings on discipline amongst the rural clergy. The basis of the work are the surviving manuscript records of the Synod found in the Zürich Staatsarchiv together with other ecclesiastical records and the writings of the reformers. The beginning point of the thesis is the historical and theological background to the Synod. The diocesan synods of Constance served as a useful model for Zwingli, as, on the whole, the structure of the rural church was left intact by the Reformation. The Synod was formed in 1528 with a brief shaped by the theological revolution of the 1520s. The idea of discipline as integral to Zwingli's teachings on God, the Church and the Christian life is examined. Bullinger's further explication of clerical discipline is discussed as the basis for the restoration of the Synod in 1532 following Kappel. The next section examines the structure and composition of the Synod. From the surviving documents it is possible to reconstruct the membership and agenda. The work of the clerical and civil representatives is discussed along with the Synod's working relationships with the other ecclesiastical and civil bodies of the canton. The Synod was part of a hierarchy of discipline which began with the parish and culminated in the Council. The central part of the thesis is a systematic treatment of the disciplinary cases in the Synod. Using Bullinger's schematic outline for the life of the minister, the cases are divided thematically that they might be studied in light of pertinent theological, political and social factors. The work of Bullinger in guiding the Synod was crucial and considerable attention is given to his writings. Finally, the thesis offers a detailed prosopography of the ministers involved in disciplinary cases between 1532 and 1580. The information provided indicates the wide range of problems afflicting the Zürich church and the heterogeneous nature of the rural clergy. The position of the Zürich church in the sixteenth century debates over discipline is well known. It rejected the system of separate church courts employed in the mediaeval and later in the Calvinist churches. This thesis explores what happened when the Zürich reformers and magistrates actually attempted to enforce their concept of discipline upon the clergy.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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