In Westminster Theological Journal 83, no. 1 (2021): pp. 153-173
Many scholars have contended that Ulrich Zwingli separated Christ’s person (Nestorianism) owing to an underlying dualism between spirit and flesh. In the early twentieth century, Erich Seeberg and Helmut Gollwitzer argued that Zwingli’s eucharistie theology was predicated on a distinction of spirit and flesh. This criticism coalesced in later scholarship with Lutheran polemics against Reformed Christology more broadly, producing the claim that Zwingli’s apparent Nestorianism stemmed from this fundamental duality. This assessment ofZwingli’s Christology is erroneous because it overlooks the complex relationship of spirit and flesh in his thought and ignores the development in his Christology. Rather than a single driving spirit/flesh dualism, Zwingli presents three distinct spirit/flesh dualities within the domains of anthropology, ethics, and creational causality. None of these dualities exerts pressure upon his Christology to separate the person of Christ. This article investigates the charge of Nestorianism by sampling Zwingli’s early and later work. Zwingli’s early Christology in The Commentary on True and False Religion (1525) does inadequately guard against Nestorianism by failing to employ the language of “personal union.” This Nestorian tendency, however, is not the product of a dualism ofspirit and flesh but a foundational commitment to the Creator/creature distinction combined with a reluctance to use non-biblical terminology. Zwingli’s christological understanding does not remain static throughout his short career but develops through polemical engagement with both Luther and the Anabaptists. By Zwingli’s final work, Fidei Expositio (1531), he presents a Christology devoid of Nestorian tendencies by ordering his reflection around classical Chalcedonian categories.