Die Ãœbersetzung des Genfer Katechismus (1542/1545) ins Deutsche durch Zacharias Ursinus im Jahr 1563


Geneva Catechism
Heidelberg Catechism


The translation of the Genevan Catechism (1542/1545) into German by Zacharias Ursinus in 1563

It is with considerable surprise that one finds in the “Opera Selecta Calvini” vol. 2 a German translation of Calvin’s Geneva Catechism (1542/1545). The translation dates from 1563, and originated in Heidelberg. Even more surprising is the translator – none other than Zacharias Ursinus, one of the chief com-posers of the Heidelberg Catechism, which was also penned in 1563. The impression could be created that Calvin’s Catechism was intended at the outset to achieve the position later attained by the Heidelberg Catechism. The title of the German translation of Calvin’s Catechism is also interesting: “Catechism of the protestant churches in France”. Olevianus explained in a letter to Calvin that the translation was titled thus for fear that the Germans would otherwise not read the catechism.

Comparing the German translation with the Geneva Catechism, it is evident that Ursinus made use of the French edition of 1542 as well as the Latin edition of 1545 as the source text. While his translation is literal, a few alterations in meaning occur, giving rise to decisive theological adjustments. A comparison with the Heidelberg Catechism is complicated by the fact that Ursinus was only one of a committee of composers who worked on the latter document. The theological corrections made to Calvin’s Catechism in the German edition reveal Ursinus’ tendency to emphasise the soteriological meaning in his translation. Beza would eventually be the one who would irreversibly modify Calvin’s theology in the direction of the reformed orthodoxy.

Copyright information

  • Ownership of copyright in terms of the Work remains with the authors.
  • The authors retain the non-exclusive right to do anything they wish with the Work, provided attribution is given to the place and detail of original publication, as set out in the official citation of the Work published in the journal. The retained right specifically includes the right to post the Work on the authors’ or their institutions’ websites or institutional repository.

Publication and user license

  • The authors grant the title owner and the publisher an irrevocable license and first right and perpetual subsequent right to (a) publish, reproduce, distribute, display and store the Work in  any form/medium, (b) to translate the Work into other languages, create adaptations, summaries or extracts of the Work or other derivative works based on the Work and exercise all of the rights set forth in (a) above in such translations, adaptations, summaries, extracts and derivative works, (c) to license others to do any or all of the above, and (d) to register the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) for the Definitive Work.
  • The authors acknowledge and accept the user licence under which the Work will  be published as set out in https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ (Creative Commons Attribution License South Africa)
  • The undersigned warrant that they have the authority to license these publication rights and that no portion of the copyright to the Work has been assigned or licensed previously to any other party.

Disclaimer: The publisher, editors and title owner accept no responsibility for any statement made or opinion expressed by any other person in this Work. Consequently, they will not be liable for any loss or damage sustained by any reader as a result of his or her action upon any statement or opinion in this Work. 
In cases where a manuscript is NOT accepted for publication by the editorial board, the portions of this agreement regarding the publishing licensing shall be null and void and the authors will be free to submit this manuscript to any other publication for first publication.

Our copyright policies are author-friendly and protect the rights of our authors and publishing partners.