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Martin Bucer

butzer) (1491-1551. Strasbourg Reformer. Born of humble parentage at Sélestat, he was schooled in Alsatian humanism and, as a Dominican,* in Aquinas's Scholasticism, but became an enthusiastic Erasmian and then, after moving to Heidelberg, an ardent “Martinian” through Luther's disputation in 1518. Released from his order in 1521, he was one of the first Reformers to marry (1522), was excommunicated while preaching reform at Wissembourg, and took refuge in Strasbourg (1523). He quickly assumed leadership in Strasbourg's reformation, together with Matthew Zell, Capito,* and Caspar Hedio, and retained it for over two decades. His gifts and industry soon established him as the chief statesman among the Reformers, an ecclesiastical diplomat of European stature, rarely absent from colloquies and diets from Marburg* (1529) onward. A prolific compiler of “Church orders” (Kirchenordnungen), he participated in the constitution of several Reformed churches, though unsuccessfully in Cologne with Hermann von Wied* (1542-43). In three formative years at Strasbourg (1538-41), Calvin sat at Bucer's feet, notably in church organization, ecumenism, and perhaps theology (e.g., predestination and Eucharist). Strasbourg's Reformed liturgy likewise shaped Genevan and Scottish patterns. Bucer's ideals attained fullest realization outside Strasbourg, through Geneva and in Hesse (1538-39), whose prince, the Landgrave Philip,* was long his intimate. (Bucer's radical views on divorce and remarriage extended even to justifying Philip's bigamy.) The magistrates restricted his scope in Strasbourg and refused to exercise fully the religious responsibilities he assigned them. Troublesome Anabaptist and spiritualist refugees provoked a tightening of ecclesiastical doctrine and structure (1533 synod), but Bucer also responded positively to the radicals, e.g., in developing discipline and confirmation, with signal success in Hesse.

He assiduously attempted to overcome the Zwinglian-Lutheran divide on the Lord's Supper. Having begun as an unquestioning Lutheran, he adopted the symbolist interpretation of Carlstadt,* Zwingli,* and Oecolampadius* (1542-46), but moderated from 1529 and treated the dispute as largely verbal. The Wittenberg Concord of 1536 climaxed his peace efforts, but it received a limited welcome. Bucer stressed participation in the true or real presence of Christ's body and blood, presented or conveyed (exhibere) by and with the signs in a “sacramental union” of earthly and heavenly realities. Thus Bucer's Strasbourg led a middle group of Reformed S German cities (cf. the Tetrapolitan Confession, 1530).

In the late 1530s and early 1540s he was the leading Protestant negotiator for agreement with the Catholic Church in Germany, especially at the conferences of Leipzig

1539), Hagenau and Worms (1540), and supremely Regensburg (1541), where a remarkable concord on justification was attained. (Bucer's intellectualist view of faith as conviction or persuasion allowed for justifying faith to be “faith active through love.”. Bucer was exiled for resisting the imperial Interim settlement (1548) and went to England as Cranmer's* guest. He was appointed regius professor at Cambridge; influenced the revision of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and especially the 1550 Ordinal; wrote for Edward VI The Kingdom of Christ, a blueprint for a Christian society; mediated in the vestments controversy; and left his impress on John Bradford,* Matthew Parker,* and later John Whitgift.*

Bucer's distinctive greatness was long eclipsed. He highlighted the importance of love and service in community, an ordered and disciplined church life, and personal holiness. He was a profuse biblical commentator (here too a source for Calvin), a humanist advocate of patristic antiquity, a pastoral theologian, and a zealous, even risqué irenicist.

Details of edition of Opera Omnia in progress (ed. F. Wendel, R. Stupperich et al., 1955ff.) in D.F. Wright, Common Places of Martin Bucer (1972), translated selections with introduction. Fuller bibliography in R. Stupperich, Bibliographia Bucerana, bound with H. Bornkamm, Martin Bucers Bedeutung für die Europäische Reformationsgeschichte (1952). Other selected studies: A. Lang, Der Evangelienkommentar Martin Butzers und die Grundzüge seiner Theologie (1900); H. Eells, Martin Bucer (1951; rep. 1971); J. Courvoisier, La Notion d'église chez Bucer dans son Développement Historique (1933); C. Hopf, Martin Bucer and the English Reformation (1946); G.J. Van de Poll, Martin Bucer's Liturgical Ideas: The Strasbourg Reformer and His Connection with the Liturgies of the Sixteenth Century (1954); J.V. Pollet, Martin Bucer: études sur la Corresspondance (2 vols., 1958, 1962); W. Pauck, The Heritage of the Reformation (2nd ed., 1961), chap. 5, “Luther and Butzer”; chap. 6, “Calvin and Butzer”; J. Müller, Martin Bucers Hermeneutik (1965); W.P. Stephens, The Holy Spirit in the Theology of Martin Bucer (1970); H. Vogt, Martin Bucer und die Kirche von England (typescript, Münster, 1968).