Johann Jungnitz (†1588) on the Necessity of Logic for Theology

*The following is my translation of pages 8-11 of Luca Baschera’s Tugend und Rechtfertigung: Peter Martyr Vermiglis Kommentar zur Nikomachischen Ethik im Spannungsfeld von Philosophie und Theologie, (Theologischer Verlag Zurich: 2007). Here Baschera summarizes and offers commentary on Johann Jungnitz’s preface to Ursinus’s version of Aristotle’s Organon:

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In 1586 there appeared in Heidelberg an incomplete compendium of Aristotle’s Organon over which the erstwhile theology professor and co-author of the Heidelberg Catechism, Zacharius Ursinus had labored. This work was published posthumously by Johann Jungnitz, a Professor of logic in the University of Heidelberg, who in his preface reflected on the value and necessity of Aristotelian logic as well as philosophy in general.[1] In this text Jungnitz, who was not a theologian, addresses the ever delicate question of the relationship between profane knowledge and theology, in which he explains the traditional defense, namely, that philosophy is not necessary for theologians yet neither does it stand in opposition to the biblical message.[2] Contrary to those who treat philosophy as superfluous, Jungnitz holds that, for theologians, philosophy is indispensible. The task of every good theologian stands on the one hand in the “erudite, methodical, and accurate” treatment of the res sacrae and on the other hand in the defense of orthodox teachings against heretics.[3] However, a theologian who has no philosophical knowledge at his disposal – Jungnitz also numbers mathematics and geography as “philosophy” – will not be able to do justice to his didactic or polemical tasks. According to Jungnitz, proper knowledge of astronomy, physics as well as botany or geography form the conditions for the effective exegesis of holy scripture,[4] while the governance of logic is necessary not only for the conservation of the internal coherence of theological discourse but also to be able to know and refute the faultiness of heretical arguments.[5] Jungnitz admits that heretics often argue “philosophically” in order to reinforce their heretical opinions; however, this should not mislead one into thinking that philosophy is to be blamed for the origin of heresy. Furthermore, one should distinguish thoroughly between the sophistry of the heretic and vera philosophia, which arises from the wisdom of God so that the truth can never oppose it.[6] The constitutive duty of vera philosophia with reference to Truth becomes especially clear by the example of Logic, the goal of which according to Jungnitz lies completely in distinguishing true from false.[7] Philosophical Logic is an art (artificialis), but it conforms to natural logic (naturalis),[8] which constitutes the rules of every rational discourse. This means, among other things, that even if Logic is taught as an art in the writing of philosophy one finds it used as the natural form of thought in the Bible.[9] If, however, the art of Logic arises from a natural, universally valid Logic, which was also used in the Bible then philosophical Logic, insofar as it does not degrade into mere sophistry, is not able to stand in contradiction to Christian Truth. Here, Logic, that commune organum shapes all of the sciences for the recognition of Truth.[10] Furthermore, according to Jungnitz, theology, regina scientiorum cannot abandon [Logic], the very means by which it functions (grundlegende Arbeitsmittel).  In order to be conclusive, a theological argument must be structured according to the same rules which lie at the base of every scientific discourse and are preserved in an especially lucid way in Aristotle’s logical writings.[11] Although from some sides this may be decried as a blasphemous mixture of philosophy and theology, Jungnitz stresses that the mere use of a philosophical paradigm of argumentation (Argumentationsmuster) by the theologian does not place the “otherness” (die Andersheit) of theology as such in question because the “otherness” of each Science depends upon the specificity of their respective objects.[12] So, theology will retain its “otherness” insofar as its theological content remains, even though it shares its modus et methodus demonstrandi with philosophy as well as with the other Sciences.[13]

Within his apology for the artes Jungnitz stresses the necessity of Logic with reference to the scientific structure of theological discourse as well as for the battle against heresy.  On the other hand the remaining philosophical and naturo-philosophical disciplines contribute primarily to the understanding of holy scripture and aid the theologian in the treatment of difficult theological questions. When Jungnitz wrote his preface, however, such arguments did not portray a novelty (novum) in the history of the Protestant understanding of philosophy. [Rather] all the more should his be treated as a representative example of a general consensus, which crystalized in the course of ten years and to its first formulation Philip Melanchthon had substantially contributed.


[1] Zu Jungnitz und seiner Vorrede zum Kompendium des Ursinus siehe Sinnema, Johann Jungnitz on the Use of Aristotelian Logic in Theology.

[2] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †2r: “Alii fortassis etiam reprehendent vitioque vertent, quod ita magnum studium multamque operam in res obscuras atque difficiles contulerit, easque non modo non necessarias, sed principiis et dogmatibus theologicis etiam adversas eoque a theologorum scholis procul procul repellandas.”

[3] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †2r: “Nam qui unquam inter theologos eminuerunt methodica, erudita atque accurata rerum sacrarum tractatione et pro iis contra haereses propugnatione, operam ecclesiae navantes egregiam, etiam philosophica eruditione praeclare ornati fuerunt.”

[4] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †2v: “De eclipsibus, de motis syderum, qui nobis annos et temporum discrimina conficiunt et quorum frequens in scripturis est mentio, praecipit mathematica. De aquis super coelos, de iride, de fluminum generatione et aliis naturae operibus, ad quae scriptura nos saepe remittit, disputat physicus. […] Locum illum Geneseos capite 2, de fluvio paradisum irrigante et in quatuor deinde se dividente capita, quis absque geographiae cognitione recte intelligat et dextre interpretur?”

[5] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †3r: “Certum est et ipsa experientia docet eos, qui in philosophiae studiis multum exerecerunt, paulatim assuefieri ad acuratam, perspicuam et expeditam res etiam obscurissimas investigandi aliisque tradendi methodum, quam quia deinceps theologicis quoque disputationibus adhibent, hoc consequuntur, ut qui in controversiis quamlibet intricatis rerum fontes sunt et firmamenta praecipua facile videant et iudicent aliisque ordine, dextre, dilucide et utiliter explicare norint.”

[6] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †2v: “Omnibus temporibus fuerunt et nunc sunt, qui ecclesiae doctrinam […] labefactare et convellere conantur rationibus e natura petitis. Quas eo nomine reiicere, quod philosophicae seu physicae sint, fatuitas est, quasi philosophicum quod est, idem continuo sit mendacium. Vera enim philosophia ex principiis natura notis extructa Dei sapientia est et veritas cum veritate theologica minime pugnans, quod verum vero nunquam adversatur.”

[7] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †4r: “Finem illum [logices] certum est esse hunc, ut subsidio logices verum a falso discernamus.”

[8] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †3v: “Logicam artificialem habere ortum suum ex naturali illa logica seu rationis luce ac methodo cognoscendi et iudicandi res.”

[9] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †3v: “Cum […] hanc [lucem rationis] vero nec aliam, nec illustriorem, ne accuratiorem in ethnicorum philosophorum scriptis elucere, quam sit ipsius Spiritus sancti in scripturis quamque animadvertatur in ecclesiae doctorum minus statuamus in sacris quoque scriptis quamque animadvertatur in ecclesiae doctorum divinis disputationibus, non minus certum sit, necessario efficitur nihil obstare, quo minus statuamus in sacris quoque scriptis ab ecclesia sapientibus potuisse ac posse bonae et necessariae consequentiae normas ac methodum notari artemque logicam constitui ac perfici.”

[10] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †4r: “Artem logicam ex natura sua necesse est esse commune organum quibusvis disciplinnis cognoscendis aeque inserviens.”

[11] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †4v: “Primum accipimus […] ratiocinandi methodum ac formam non aliam, sed prorsus eandem a theologis, iureconsultis, medicis et aliis artificibus in discendo et docendo observari […]. Deinde addimus formam, normas ac regulas necessariae consequentiae in demonstrationibus theologicis esse non alias, sed illas ipsas, quae ab Aristotele in omni demonstratione perfecta requiruntur.” An einer anderen Stelle betont Jungnitz explizit die Eminenz der aristotelischen Logik, vgl. Ebd., †3v: “Ex priscis sapientibus, sive ethnicis sive sacris, quorum quidem commentationes extant, neminem praeter Aristotelem in illo genere felicius ac eruditius laborasse.”

[12] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †4v: “Nam res demonstrandae et principia, per quae demonstrantur, sicuti et ipsae demonstrationes sunt diversissimae et quodammodo infinitae et cuiusque rei, quae demonstrari apta est, propriae. Modus autem et methodus demonstrandi seu forma, conditiones et normae demonstrationis perfectae semper eadem manent in omnibus scientiis. Res itaque non omnes eadem, sed aliae ex aliis disciplinis, philosophicae ex philsophia, theologicae ex theologia, depromuntur; ratio vero demonstrandi res quascunque ex una atque eadem logica cognoscitur.”

[13] Jungnitz, Praefatio, †4v: “Qui […] eadem ex theologicis, hoc est in scriptura traditis aut repetitis principiis deducentes et iudicantes, eandem in demonstrando methodum sequuntur, quam observant philosophi, […] illi non magis sacra prophanis miscent, quam cum theologus demonstrationem theologicam ad grammaticorum regulas et loquendi usum conformat, ut congrua sit et latina.”

A Brief Bio of Jerome Zanchi: Italian Reformer

Jerome ZanchiThe following is a brief biography of Jerome Zanchi by Samuel Clarke, a late 17th century English Presbyterian. The accuracy of the data should be taken with caution due to the nature of the writing and the polemical agenda of the writer. However, the facts seem to be correct and do not present anything that appears blatantly dubious. If I were to write this bio I would make greater mention of Zanchi’s humanism, particularly his lectures on Aristotle’s Physics that he delivered in Strasbourg while Peter Martyr was lecturing on the Nicomachean Ethics in the same school. I’d also include the fact that Zanchi, like Martyr, was a trained Thomist and even planned to organize his works into a Summa theologiae. Yet, the following is a good intro to the life and times of such a monumental Reformed divine who has been unjustly neglected in our day. 

Early Years and Conversion:

Hierom Zanchius was born at Atzanum in Italy, Anno 1516. His Father was a Lawyer, who brought him up at School; and when Zanchy was but twelve years old his Father died of the Plague Anno Christi 1528; at which time Zanchy was at School, where he was instructed in the Liberall Sciences: When he came to the age of fifteen years, being now deprived of both his parents, observing that divers of his kindred were of the order of Canons Regular, amongst whom that there were divers learned men, being exceeding desirous of Learning, he entered into that Order, where he lived about twenty ears, and studied Arts and School-Divinity, together with the Tongues. He was very familiar with Celsus Martiningus, joyning studies with him, was a diligent hearer of Peter Martyr’s publick Lectures at Luca upon the Epistle to the Romans, and of his private Lectures upon the Psalmes, which he read to his Canons. This drew his mind to an earnest study of the Scriptures. He read also the Fathers, especially St. Augustine, with the most learned Interpreters of the Word of God: And thereupon he preached the Gospel for some years in the purest manner that the time and place would suffer. And when Peter Martyr left Italy, so that his godly Disciples could no longer live in safety there, much lesse have liberty of Preaching, about twenty of them in the space of one year left their station, and followed their Master into Germany, amongst whom Zanchy was one. Being thus (as he used to say) delivered out of the Babylonish captivity, anno Christi 1550. He went, first into Rhetia, where he staied about eight months, and from thence to Geneva, and after nine months stay there, he was sent for by Peter Martyr into England, but when he came to Strasborough, he staid there to supply Hedio’s room newly dead, who read Divinity in the Schooles, which was in the year 1553. (The Marrow of Ecclesiastical History, 804-807)

Professor of Divinity in Strasbourg:

He lived, and taught Divinity in that City about 11 years; sometimes also reading Aristotle in the Schools; yet not without opposition, old James Sturmius, the Father of that University being dead: Yea his adversaries proceeded so far as to tell Zanchy, that if he would continue to read there, he must subscribe the Augustane Confession, to which he yeelded for peace-sake, with this proviso, modo Orthodoxe intelligatur; declaring his judgment also about Christ’s presence in the Sacrament, wherwith they were satisfied. And thus he continued to the year 1563, being very acceptable to the good, and a shunner of strife, and a lover of concord. At the end whereof the Divines and Professors there, accused him for differing from them in some points about the Lord’s Supper, the Ubiquity of Christ’s Body, the use of Images in the Churches, Predestination, and the Perseverance of the Saints: About these things they raised contentions, which were partly occasioned by the book of Heshusius, printed at this time at Strasborough, About the Lord’s Supper; and it came to this pase, that they put Zanchy to his choice either to depart of himself, or else they would remove him from his place. And though many waies were tried for the composing of this difference, yet could it not be effected. (ibid.)

Pastor of an Italian Congregation:

But it pleased God that about this time there came a Messenger to signifie to him that the Pastor of the churhch of Clavenna, in the borders of Italy, being dead, he was chosen Pastor in his room; wherefore obtaining a dismission from the Senate of Strasborough, he went thither, and after he had preached about two months, the Pestilence brake forth in that Town so violently, that in seven months space there dyed twelve hundred men; yet he continued there so long as he had any Auditors; but when most of the Citizens had removed their families into a high mountain not farre off, he went thither also, and spent above three months in Preaching, Meditation, and Prayer, and when the plague was stayed, hee returned into the City again. And thus he continued in that plae almost four years to the great profit of many, but not without afflictions to himself. (ibid.)

Professor of Divinity in Heidelberg and Christian Apologist:

Anno Christi 1568 hee was sent for by Frederick the third, Elector Palitino, to Heidelberg to be Professor, and was entertained with all love and respect, where he succeeded Urfin, and at his entrance made an excellent Oracion about the preserving, and adhering to the inner world of God alone. The same year he was made Doctor of Divinity. About which tie that excellent Prince Frederick, who was a zealous promoter of the Doctrine of the Prophets and Apostles, required him to explain the Doctrine of the one God, and three Persons, to confirm it, and to confute the Doctrine of those which at the time denyed the Deity of Christ and the Holy Ghost in Poland and Transilvania, and to answer their arguments whence upon he wrote those learned Tractates, De Dei natura, De tribus Elohim, etc. In which book the whole Orthodox about that great Mystery so unfolded and confirmed, that all adversaries may forever be ashamed which goe about to contradict the same…. (ibid.)

Move to Neostade and Death:

He taught in that University ten years till the death of Prince Frederick. Then by Prince John Cassimire he was removed to his new University at Neostade, where he spent above seven years in reading Divinity. Though in the year 1578 he had been earnestly solicited to come to the University of Leiden, then newly begunne; as also the year after the Citizens of Antwerp called him to be their Pastor, yet the Prince would by no means part with him, knowing that he could not be missed in his University. The Prince Elector Palatine, Ledwick, being dead, and Prince Cassimire being for the time made Administrator of his estate, the University was returned from Neostade to Heidelberg, and Zanchy being now grown old, had a liberal stipend setled upon him by Prince Cassimire; whereupon going to Heidelberg to visit his friends, he fell sick, and quietly departed in the Lord Anno Christi 1590, and of his age seventie five. He was excellently versed in the writings of the ancient Fathers and Philosophers, he was of singular modesty, and very studious to promote the peace of the Church. (ibid.)