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Author Introduction
Zacharius Ursinus
Author's Name: Zacharius Ursinus
Dates: 1534 - 1583
Category: Protestant Reformer

Short Description

Zacharias Ursinus (July 18, 1534, Breslau—May 6, 1583, Neustadt), a sixteenth century German theologian, born Zacharias Baer in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland). Like all young scholars of that era he gave himself a Latin name, in his case one stemming from ursus, meaning bear. He is best known as a professor of theology at the University of Heidelberg and co-author with Caspar Olevianus (1536-1587) of the Heidelberg Catechism.

At age fifteen he enrolled at the University of Wittenberg, boarding for the next seven years with Philipp Melanchthon, the erudite successor of Martin Luther. Melanchthon admired young Ursinus for his intellectual gifts and his spiritual maturity, commending him to mentors throughout Europe. Subsequently Ursinus studied under Reformation scholars at Strasbourg, Basel, Lausanne, and Geneva. Sojourns in Lyon and Orleans gave him expertise in Hebrew. Returning to Breslau he published a pamphlet on the sacraments, which aroused the ire of Lutherans who charged him with being more Reformed than Lutheran. The Breslau opponents’ vitriolic reaction succeeded in driving him out of the city to Zurich, where he became friends with Peter Martyr, the Italian Reformer.

In 1561, upon Peter Martyr's recommendation, Frederick III, Elector Palatine, appointed him professor in the Collegium Sapientiae at Heidelberg, where in 1563, having been commissioned by the Prince elector, he completed the Heidelberg Catechism in cooperation with Olevianus. The death of the Prince elector in 1576 led to the removal of Ursinus, who occupied a professorial chair at Neustadt an der Haardt from 1578 until his death in 1583.

His Works were published in 1587-1589, and a more complete edition by his son and two of his pupils, Pareus and Reuterus, in 1612.

Ursinus College is a small, liberal arts college founded in his name.

Zacharius Ursinus: Books
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