Gabriel Zwilling

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Gabriel Zwilling , also Gabriel Didymus (* around 1487 in Annaberg ; † May 1, 1558 in Torgau ) was a Lutheran theologian and reformer .


Childhood and youth

Zwilling was the son of a city judge. The place and time of his start of studies are unknown, as is whether he entered the Augustinian hermit order Joachimsthal in Bohemia . In the past it was usually assumed that he had started studying in Prague and had moved to Wittenberg in 1502 .

The register of the University of Wittenberg shows that he registered there in 1512, came from Annaberg and was a member of the Augustinian order . Presumably he was only a few years younger than his brother Martin Luther . Even then he must have been close to Johann von Staupitz , who expressed the wish that he would like to do his studies in Erfurt.

Study time and friar

In 1516 he acquired the Baccalaureus of the artistic arts and Luther sent him in his capacity as district vicar to Erfurt , where he was to devote himself to the study of the Greek language . Luther wrote to the Erfurt prior, Johann Lange , that he would like to see that Zwilling complies with the statutes of the order and complies with monastic discipline. However, Zwilling did not last long there and returned to Wittenberg, where he received his master's degree in 1518 . Under the influence of Luther, Zwilling joined the Reformation and appeared during the Wittenberg Movement alongside Andreas Bodenstein as an innovator in the Wittenberg Augustinian monastery .

The unsightly, one-eyed man must have been a gorgeous preacher. He took off his habit and wore a long frock coat and wide-brimmed hat.

Reformation activity


Luther was after the Diet of Worms in 1521 with the imperial ban shows the design for this purpose have the Papal Nuncio Girolamo Aleandro written. On May 26, 1521, the Reichstag imposed the Edict of Worms on him , backdated to May 8 and drawn by the Emperor . With the imperial ban an outlaw (declaration of peace and lawlessness) was issued, which extended to the entire area of ​​the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and which went hand in hand with the prohibition of his works and the distribution of his writings. He was now " outlawed ". According to the promise made to his elector, Friedrich III. , he received safe conduct . Charles V later regretted this promise because the ensuing Reformation destroyed the unity of his empire. The outlaw was secretly kidnapped by Frederick's soldiers on the evening of May 4, 1521 on the way home near Altenstein Castle in Bad Liebenstein and arrested at the Eisenach Wartburg to keep him out of danger. Luther stayed there from Saturday, May 4th, 1521 to Saturday, March 1st, 1522 incognito as "Junker Jörg".

In May 1521, Philipp Melanchthon and Lucas Cranach published the pamphlet “Passional Christi und Antichristi”, which further promoted the anti-papal mood.

Reformed worship

Gabriel Zwilling pushed for a radical change in the existing Roman Catholic liturgy in Wittenberg. Supported by Nikolaus von Amsdorf and Justus Jonas , he called for the abolition of private fairs , missa privata . Next, he advocated the full introduction of the Reformed Mass, in which wine and bread were donated, that is, both forms ( bread and wine ). In October 1521 he preached to his friars against the veneration of the Host , the abolition of private masses and demanded that the Lord's Supper be distributed in both forms. In the question of the sacrament , he said that communion should only be used in memory of the passion. Twin sermons showed the success that the Augustinian Convention stopped reading the mass on October 13, 1521. When he was one of the first to leave the Augustinian monastery in November, his confreres joined them.

The resignation of many monks from the Wittenberg convent can be traced back to his instigation, a step that Zwilling himself took in November of that year. While Bodenstein was introducing the new order of worship in Wittenberg , he performed in Eilenburg .

On Midsummer Day , Friday, December 27, 1521, Zwilling stayed in Eilenburg and there distributed the Lord's Supper under both forms, at the same time as the Reformation activities of Andreas Bodenstein , known as Karlstadt in the Wittenberg community.

Under Bodenstein's influence, he turned against the pictures and altars in the city ​​church of Wittenberg on Friday January 10, 1522 . With the appearance of the Zwickau prophets , criticism of the school system exaggerated the situation, so that Luther returned from the Wartburg to Wittenberg. Zwilling bowed to this and confessed that he had gone too far. Although Luther saw him alongside Bodenstein as the most important cause of the unrest, he was particularly satisfied with his inner change.

In April Luther recommended Zwilling to the city of Altenburg as a preacher. But he admonished him to proceed cautiously with consideration for the weak, to hold back on innovations and to act only on the basis of the word and not on human strength or order. However, its activity did not last long. The canons resisted his installation.

Late years

In 1523 he found himself as a preacher in Torgau, where his passionate commitment to the Reformation triggered a storm on the Franciscan monastery there. Here he married a stranger in 1524, allegedly the widow of the former councilor and chancellor of Friedrich III. , Hieronymus Rudelauf (around 1450–1523) from Frankenberg .

He concluded his second marriage in 1543 with Dorothea Horst (* 1526 - 23 July 1595 in Torgau), the daughter of Torgau councilor and cloth merchant Gregor Horst and his wife Gertrud Frenzel. Gemini left behind some children. His son Paul (1547–1581) embarked on a successful career as a university teacher. In addition, the daughter Magdalene Didymus is known, who married the deacon in Zerbst Marcus Heise, the daughter Gertrud Didymus married the deacon in Torgau Michael Schulze and the son Gabriel Didymus worked as a doctor in Ulm, Michael Didymus († June 15, 1562 in Torgau).

In 1526 Zwilling got a job as a city pastor. From 1529 to 1548 he was finally superintendent in Torgau. In 1537 his signature can be found under the Schmalkaldic Articles . Since then he has worked more in silence.

During his time in Torgau, the Augsburg Interim of 1548 fell, in which Emperor Charles V wanted to enforce his religious-political goals in the Holy Roman Empire through this imperial law by defeating the Schmalkaldic League . When the Augsburg Interim was introduced in the Electorate of Saxony, he opposed it vigorously by including a. wrote the pamphlet “ A Brief Report and Answer to the New Church Order ”. On the orders of Elector Moritz von Sachsen, he was arrested in May 1548 and imprisoned in Wittenberg for two weeks and then removed from office. As much as the Wittenberg theologians tried to get him, they did not change Elector Moritz. But he was allowed to stay in Torgau and spent the last 9 years of his life there as a private preacher to the mother of the elector , the widow of Heinrich von Sachsen , Katharina von Mecklenburg .

Fonts (selection)

  • Short report and answer to the new church order. Dresden 1549


  • Karl Pallas: The attempt at the Reformation of Gabriel Zwilling (Didymus) in Eilenburg and its consequences . In: Archive for the History of the Reformation (ARG), vol. 9, 1912, pp. 347–362
  • Hans Joachim Kessler: Altenburg. An electoral-Saxon middle town in the development of a territorial princely residence town between the division of Leipzig in 1485 and the Wittenberg surrender in 1547, dissertation Leipzig 1991, pp. 88–91
  • Julius Löbe: History of the Churches and Schools of the Duchy of Saxony-Altenburg, Vol. 1, Altenburg 1886, p. 101
  • Julius Löbe: Communications on the beginning and progress of the Reformation in Altenburg in simultaneous acts, letters, news . In: Mittheilungen der Geschichts- und Altertumsforschenden Gesellschaft des Osterlandes, vol. 6, 1863, p. 11
  • Gottfried Wentz: The Augustinian Hermitage in Wittenberg. In: Germania Sacra . The dioceses of the church province of Magdeburg. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1941, 2nd T., p. 484
  • Theodor KoldeDidymus, Gabriel . In: Realencyklopadie for Protestant Theology and Church (RE). 3. Edition. Volume 4, Hinrichs, Leipzig 1898, pp. 639-641.
  • Gustav Leopold Plitt:  Didymus, Gabriel . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 5, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1877, p. 117.
  • Detlef Metz:  TWINS (Didymus), Gabriel. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 14, Bautz, Herzberg 1998, ISBN 3-88309-073-5 , Sp. 672-674.
  • Ulrich Linkner: The Reformation in Torgau. Torgau 1983.
  • Hans-Joachim Böttcher : Zwilling (called: Didymus), Gabriel . In: Important historical personalities of the Dübener Heide , Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Mitteldeutsche Familienforschung, No. 237, 2012, p. 112.

Web links

  • Thomas Hahn-Bruckart: Luther and the struggle for the evangelical sovereignty of interpretation. Reformation anniversary April 4, 2017 [1]

References and comments

  1. ^ Gustav Leopold Plitt: Didymus, Gabriel . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie , Vol. 5 (1877), p. 117.
  2. ^ Theodor Kolde : Didymus, Gabriel . In: New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge , Vol. 3. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids 1952, pp. 425-426.
  3. ^ Volkmar Joestel: Martin Luther. Rebel and reformer. (= Biographies on the Reformation ). 8th edition. Drei-Kastanien-Verlag, Wittenberg 2005, ISBN 3-9803358-5-2 , p. 31.
  4. Lyndal Roper : The man Martin Luther - The biography. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2016, ISBN 978-3-10-066088-6 , p. 270 f.
  5. Thomas Kaufmann : History of the Reformation. 2nd Edition. Verlag der Welteligionen im Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2010, ISBN 978-3-458-71024-0 , p. 334 f.
  6. Luther to Spalatin on January 18, 1524: “Fama est” (It's a rumor.), Weimar edition , Correspondence Department, Vol. III, No. 706, cf. Note 4 there, too, according to which this rumor should not lead to a later actual marriage of twin oo widow pack run. Jürgen Herzog is more believable : Pre-Reformation Church and Reformation in Torgau . Beucha 2016, p. 199, who deduces from the history of ownership of the house Torgau, Markt 11 and the files on the inheritance dispute after Hieronymus Rudelauf's death that Hieronymus Rudelauf's widow married the Torgau Magister Balthasar Arnold.
  7. ^ Also Hieronymus Rudloff or Hieronymus Rudlauff: Electoral Saxon Chancellor and Council; 1502 University of Wittenberg, 1509 secretary Friedrich the Wise, from 1512 to 1523 clerk Friedrich the Wise, 1518 electoral council, 1521 participation in the Worms Reichstag