Resources On The Heidelberg Catechism (1563)


The Heidelberg Catechism was published 1563. It went through three editions early on and it is the third edition that was authorized (in Latin) by the Synod of Dort in 1619. It is rightly beloved by millions. It has been translated into numerous languages including Korean, Modern Hebrew, and Swahili. If you are unfamiliar with the Heidelberg it is composed of 129 questions and answers intended to explain the basics of the Christian faith to adults and children alike. It is organized into three parts: guilt, grace, and gratitude. It follows the structure of the book of Romans.

It was well received when it was published and it became a part of the theological curriculum at the University of Oxford and in many other schools. Zacharias Ursinus (1534–83) is responsible for most of the catechism. He wrote two catechisms, a larger (the Summa) and the smaller (catechesis minor). The Heidelberg is derived from the smaller. The Elector Frederick III, who authorized the catechism, appointed Ursinus to explain it officially. He lectured on the catechism in the seminary, known as the Collegium Sapientiae. We have his explanation in English as The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, translated by G. W. Williard, which was produced in 1851. On its own terms, Ursinus’ work was a compendium (handbook) of doctrine, which used the catechism as a backbone or a structure. As a translation, the Williard edition is a mixed blessing. He followed the Victorian custom of rendering Ursinus rather freely in places. We need a new English translation of Ursinus. In 1985, at the urging of the Reformed Church in the United States and with the help of the Den Dulk Foundation, P&R Publishing reprinted the 1852 edition of the Williard edition but unfortunately, the Williard edition is now out of print.

Primary Sources



Podcasts, Videos, And Lectures

Devotionals and Commentaries


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