Eucharistic Sacrifice and Patristic Tradition in the Theology of Martin Bucer, 1534-1546


Luther described the Mass as the “greatest and most horrible abomination” of the papal church. On this, he argued, nothing could be surrendered. However, during the 1530s and early 1540s, the Strasbourg reformer Martin Bucer (1491-1551) sought rapprochement with the Catholics on precisely this matter.
This book looks at Bucer’s overtures to Catholic moderates in the era of the religious colloquies. He proposed to circumvent the Reformation impasse by returning to the Eucharistic theology of the church fathers and early scholastics. These efforts culminated in the Eucharistic articles of the Worms-Regensburg Book (1541). Bucer’s falling out with the same Catholics in aftermath of the Colloquy of Regensburg reveals the extent to which the agreed articles were based on misunderstanding – as well as the considerable common ground that continued to exist between them.
In its examination of this most fraught of Reformation debates, the book also sheds light on Bucer’s ecumenical theology and his aspirations for a reunion of the German and European churches.


EUR €123.00USD $148.00

Biographical Note

Nicholas Thompson, Ph.D. (2000) in Ecclesiastical History, University of Glasgow, is Lecturer in Church History at the University of Aberdeen.

Review Quote

' While the principal focus in [...] Thompson's book, is on the developing Catholici-Protestant divide that would soon make permanent the split within what had been the unity of Western Christendom, Bucer was also involved, as noted, in the attempt to forge a unity (albeit fragile) within Protestantism as well. As a mediating figure in a time of increasingly intense passions, Bucer was deeply suspect, if not indeed reviled, for what he sought to achieve - and he continues to be treated with some disdain in some circles - but he deserves and deserves better...welcome addition to a still relatively small literature in English on this enigmatic reformer.' N. Scott Amos, Renaissance Quarterly, 2005. ' Thompson's study is a considered contribution to the debate and makes available a wealth of continental sources to an English-speaking readership.' Andreas Loewe, Ecclesiastical History, 2006. ' The contributors to this enlightening and highly readable volume are to be commended warmly for their work in catalyzing the discussion.' Simon Doubleday, American Historical Review, 2005.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements Key to Abbreviations 1. Introduction 2. The Place of Tradition in the Debate on the Sacrifice of the Mass 3. The Early Debate on the Sacrifice of the Mass 4. The Reformers’ Use of Patristic Testimony in the Debate on the Mass 5. Bucer’s Early Writing on the Mass (1523–1531) 6. Bucer’s Preparations for a Council (1534–1540) 7. Catholic Irenic Writing on the Sacrifice of the Mass (1530–1540) 8. The Colloquies and the Mass (1539–1541) 9. The Aftermath of the First Colloquy of Regensburg (1541–1546) 10. Eucharistic Sacrifice in Constans Defensio (1543) and De Vera et Falsa Caenae Dominicae Administratione (1546) 11. Conclusion Bibliography Index


All those interested in the history and theology of the Reformation, liturgical history and theology and the history of the ecumenical movement.