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Reformer of Basel: The Life, Thought, and Influence of Johannes Oecolampadius (Poythress)

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Reformation Heritage Books

Table of Contents:

  1. From Germany to Switzerland: The Life of Johannes Oecolampadius
  2. Colleagues in the Kingdom
  3. Scriptural Study: Exegesis and Hermeneutics
  4. Reformation Renewal
  5. Worthy Words: Publications, Translations, Writings

Appendix: Oecolampadius’s Commentary on Isaiah 36–37

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Diane M. Poythress earned her PhD in Reformation history and theology from Westminster Theological Seminary. She studied under Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri, was a missionary in Europe and Taiwan, and served as staff for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Washington, D. C. She is a speaker, writer, and housewife married to Vern Poythress, and mother of two grown sons.



“Unjustly forgotten for centuries, Johannes Oecolampadius of Basel was a prolific pioneer reformer. As a linguist and exegete he was matched only by Calvin, for whom his writings were a valued resource. But here, at least, is a worthy survey of his life and work. Exhaustive without being exhausting, and solidly learned while easy to read, this is a volume of major importance for all students of Reformed thought.” — J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College

“Johannes Oecolampadius is one of the forgotten heroes of the Reformation. Diane Poythress has put the modern church in her debt by recalling his great achievements in the city of Basel and more widely through his influential biblical commentaries. It is a fascinating study.” — Gordon J. Wenham, Old Testament Professor Emeritus, Trinity College Bristol

“It is indeed a joy to be able to read about the life and times of Basel’s great Reformer, Johannes Oecolampadius, from Dr. Diane Poythress’s pen. She writes in a very engaging style that helps to make the long-ago events of the sixteenth century come alive. Her presentation is scholarly, engaging with all the sources in a number of languages, correctly critical (when authors refuse to see the clear hand of God at action and ascribe ‘secular’ motivation), but most importantly introduces to English readers a beautiful facet of God’s great reforming work in Switzerland.

“Poythress introduces her readers to Oecolampadius’s life in its historical context. She traces his vast influence throughout Europe and helps the reader to understand why he is so important by presenting an annotated bibliography of his prodigious writings. With great depth of learning (including comparing his work with Greek fathers), she points out Oecolampadius’s exegetical insights and contributions as well as his hermeneutical theory. Not content with that significant contribution, she also shows the scope of the Basel Reformer’s theology.

“Dr. Poythress also provides an English translation of part of Oecolampadius’s Isaiah commentary, giving her readers a sweet appetizer to the banquet of theology found at Oecolampadius’s theological table. This work will satisfy scholars but will be a blessing to any reader. It is highly recommended, and the Christian community is indebted to Dr. Poythress and her publisher for making this great work available to us.” — Richard C. Gamble, Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“Thanks to the research and writing of Dr. Diane Poythress, the largely overlooked Reformation contributions of Oecolampadius are restored for today’s students. This helpful study will deepen the reader’s understanding of the critical recovery of the Old Testament for the Christian Church in the early years of the Protestant Reformation.” — Peter A. Lillback,  President Westminster Theological Seminary