Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ

ALTHOUGH LARGELY UNITED in their protest against Rome, the Protestant reformers became sharply divided amongst themselves in the decades immediately following the Reformation. Among the issues that increasingly divided Lutherans and Reformed was one of the central mysteries of the Christian faith: the relationship of the divine and human natures of Christ in the one incarnate person of the Redeemer. Arising out of the eucharistic debates that had pitted Luther's highly realist account of the body and blood of Christ against the more symbolic language of the Reformed, the Christological controversies of the 1550s were to ultimately dash any hopes of a united Protestant church. However, the polemical literature of this period offered some of the most searching and sophisticated investigations of the doctrines of Christology that the church had seen since the Patristic era.

Among this literature, Peter Martyr Vermigli's Dialogue on the Two Natures of Christ towers as a classic of early Reformed dogmatics. Penned in response to Johannes Brenz's De Personali Duarum Naturarum in Christo, the Dialogues sought to head off what Vermigli saw as a dangerous innovation in Lutheran Christology: the so-called "ubiquity" of Christ's human body. As Vermigli's last published work, the Dialogue was a fitting capstone to the Florentine reformer's illustrious theological carreer, showcasting his peerless command of Patristic literature, sophisticated use of scholastic distinctions, and deep concern for orthodox teaching.


Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1562) was born in Florence and educated in Padua before rising through the ranks of the Augustinian order in Italy. A secret convert to Protestantism in the 1530s, he eventually fled north to Germany in 1542, before holding a series of influential posts at Strasbourg, Oxford, and Zurich. He ranks alongside John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger as among the chief architects of the Reformed Protestant tradition.

JOHN PATRICK DONNELLY S.J. (1934-) is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has researched and taught for many decades, particularly on the Renaissance and Reformation periods. He was a leading force in the revival of Vermigli studies beginning in the 1970s and was among the founding editors of the Peter Martyr Library.


The Peter Martyr Library, begun in 1994 by the Peter Martyr Vermigli Society, is a scholarly project to make available to a modern audience, in critical edition translations from the Latin, the key writings of Italian reformer Peter Martyr Vermigli. Published by Truman State University Press until 2017, the Peter Martyr Library is now overseen and published by The Davenant Institute, now for the first time in paperback.