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Inventing Authority
The Use of the Church Fathers in Reformation Debates over the Eucharist

By Esther Chung-Kim

Inventing Authority
Hardback, 230 pages $49.95
Published: 15th March 2011
ISBN: 9781602582132
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All History, All Religious Studies, All Theology, Biblical Theology, Church History, Historical Theology, Worship and Ritual

Adding great historical insight to the events of the sixteenth century, Inventing Authority uncovers how and why the Protestant reformers came, in their dissent from the Catholic church, to turn to the Church Fathers and align their movements with the early church. Discovering that the reformers most frequently appealed to patristic sources in polemical contexts, Esther Chung-Kim adeptly traces the variety and creativity of their appeals to their forebears in order to support their arguments—citing them to be authoritative for being "exemplary scriptural exegetes" to "instruments of choice".

Examining three generations of sixteenth-century reformers—from such heavy-weights as Calvin and Luther to lesser-known figures like Oecolampadius and Hesshusen—Chung-Kim offers an analysis of striking breadth, one that finds its center by focusing in on the perennially contentious topic of the Eucharist. Filling a significant lacuna in the early history of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions, Inventing Authority is an important and eye-opening contribution to Reformation studies.



1 Colloquy of Marburg (1529)

2 John Calvin’s Use of the Fathers in the Institutes and New Testament Commentaries

3 John Calvin and Joachim Westphal

4 Calvin and Westphal, Continued

5 Calvin versus Hesshusen

6 Use of the Fathers at the Colloquy of Montbéliard (1586)


Appendix I

Appendix II




Index 189

"This is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the use of the fathers in Reformation times. It gives a useful new perspective on the much-studied eucharistic debates."

—Dr Anthony N. S. Lane, Professor of Historical Theology, London School of Theology

"This work reflects a disciplined approach that bears some useful fruit for the historian.... Inventing Authority is well-researched and thought-provoking, and will be of interest to the scholar, the student and the informed layperson."

The Expository Times (2012, 123:17)

"A thoughtful and important study. Chung-Kim's treatment of the Calvin-Westphal debate, the focal point of the book, is especially to be commended."

—Irena Backus, Université de Genève, Institut d'histoire de la Réformation

"In Inventing Authority: The Use of the Church Fathers in Reformation Debates over the Eucharist, Esther Chung-Kim builds a strong and convincing argument regarding the way in which the authority of the church fathers was reshaped by Reformation theologians to bolster their own legitimacy and establish a markedly new understanding of theological authority within the Protestant church, particularly in relation to issues where no internal consensus within Protestantism prevailed."

—Sylvia Sweeney, Bloy House, Episcopal Theological School at Claremont, Anglican and Episcopal History

"[Chung-Kim's] solid study makes more precise the ways in which Protestant reformers structured their systems of authority and put contemporary scholarship to use. Her assessment of the use of historical authority in the church invites further investigation of many aspects of the reformers' employment of the fathers."

Lutheran Quarterly (2011, 25:4)

Esther Chung-Kim is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. She lives in Claremont, California.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 230 pages
 9in x 6in

  REL067080, REL108020
 Baylor University Press

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