The Grossmünster harbours an unique collection of Bibles and scriptures dating back to the time of the Reformation. Its centrepiece is the hand-coloured Froschauer Bible – worldwide one of only three surviving copies of the first complete edition of the Bible published in German. This treasure is now publicly accessible.
The reformers sought to bring the Holy Scripture to the people and up for discussion, staging «disputations» (debates) to establish the truth on the basis of the Bible. Reformers and political authorities staged disputations in order to assert their beliefs against the authority of the church, backed by large swathes of the population. The First Zurich Disputation on 29 January 1523 had epochal consequences, with the Council of Zurich voting in favour of the reformer Ulrich Zwingli and against the established church. This Zurich model was replicated in many places across Switzerland.
In addition to numerous Bible printings, the Schriftensammlung (collection of writings) in the Grossmünster also includes a collection of Zurich Reformation Scriptures. An assortment of original printings from the Disputation era is on display to mark the 500th anniversary of the First Zurich Disputation.
Summer | 1 March – 31 October
12 – 5 pm
Winter | 1 November – 28 February
12 – 4 pm
Closed on Tuesday
Adults: CHF 5.–
Children and adolescents under the age of 17, students and AHV card holders: CHF 2.–
Admission entitles you to visit the tower (Karlsturm) and to a discount of CHF 5.– on the admission to the collection at Kunsthaus Zürich (CHF 11.– instead of CHF 16.–).
The original Froschauer Bible is displayed in the permanent exhibit «Getruckt zů Zürich» since March 2019. It is a hand-coloured Bible – worldwide one of only three surviving copies of the first complete edition of the Bible published in German.
Origins of the Zurich Bible take us back to the Reformation in Zürich under Ulrich Zwingli. From 1524 to 1529, Zurich printer Christoph Froschauer – Zwingli’s friend – printed first the New Testament and then the individual parts of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha. The German text first followed the translation of Martin Luther, but was finally published three years before Luther’s Bible appeared in Germany. The translation was completed mainly by Zwingli and his friend Leo Jud, a pastor at the church of St. Peter in Zurich.
The Froschauer Bible (1531) contains a foreword by Zwingli and a summary of each chapter. A revision of the Old Testament followed in the 1540 edition. In 1574, the New Testament was revised and in 1589, verse numbering was added.
The Froschauer Bible Online
The entire Bible has been scanned by the Zentralbibliothek Zürich and can be downloaded as PDF or RIS.