Previously I argued that Protestant Reformer Heinrich Bullinger appears to go from being certain about Mary's Assumption (as early as 1539) to being agnostic on Mary's Assumption later in his life (by at least 1552). Why bother with such tedium? I do so to demonstrate that Rome's defenders don't always go that deep into history as they so often claim. Sure, they'll point out that Heinrich Bullinger made a strong statement affirming the Assumption of Mary. What they might not mention is that he made statements after it in which he said that it's dangerous to explore where Scripture is silent. For instance,
"The most learned theologians say that one cannot assert anything on the matter of the death or the assumption of the virgin. To wish to unearth or clarify certain facts on which scripture is silent is not without its dangers. Let us content ourselves with believing that the Virgin Mary is indeed active in heaven and has received every beatitude after her departing" (Latin text, Translation, Thurian, p.197).Did Bullinger believe in the Assumption? It appears he at least did in 1539. He plainly states though in later writings that one cannot know Mary was Assumed into heaven. I see a development in Bullinger here. The entire sixteenth century church was bathed in Mariology, so it would not be surprising to discover that Heinrich Bullinger didn't necessarily repudiate every aspect of it immediately. It would not be surprising as well to discover that as church history progressed from the Reformation, the bath water of Mariology gradually disappears, and I would argue, this is indeed what happened. Bullinger never totally escaped from medieval Mariology, but his comments on the Assumption when placed in their historical context show that he may have been on his way.
Bullinger's Sermon, De beata virgine Maria: Proof for Believing in the Assumption?
In going through this tedium, I found one author claiming that Bullinger believed in Mary's Assumption later in his life, oddly enough, based on the testimony of Eusebius. If this is so, it would indicate my argument isn't valid, because here would be Bullinger in the late 1550's affirming the Assumption. The author states,
These comments above are based on this passage from Bullinger's sermon De beata virgine Maria. Along with the Latin text, I have William Tappolet's German translation of this passage from Das Marienlob der Reformatoren: Martin Luther, Johannes Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, Heinrich Bullinger, p. 292-293. As I suspected, Bullinger is not using Eusebius to claim he again was certain on the Assumption of Mary. Bullinger states that Eusebius wrote a chronicle up to the year 48 A.D., but this diligent historian doesn't really get into what happened to Mary other than saying Mary had been taken up to her Son in heaven. He then mentions papal decrees condemning apocryphal literature that delve into Mary's Assumption. He then says to avoid the arguments about the Assumption from the Disputations of Antonius (Besutius?) and that it's useless to argue where Scripture is silent. The aspect of Mary's final end to keep in view is that she now lives in heaven with Christ. The theme of not delving into where Scripture is silent is exactly what his other later quotes say.
Here is Tappolet's text:
Eusebius, der Bischof von Cäsarea, der - bis ans Wunder grenzend - der fleißigste Forscher des ganzen Altertums war, erwähnt in seiner Chronik zum Jahre 48 nach Christi Geburt, dem 15. nach dem Tod des Herrn, ganz wenig und sagt: die Jungfrau Maria, die Mutter Jesu Christi, wird zum Sohn in den Himmel aufgenommen, wie manche schreiben, daß ihnen geoffenbart worden sei. Dies sagt jener, der in der Kirchengeschichte davon nichts erwähnt. Es ist deshalb nicht verwunderlich, daß in den päpstlichen Dekreten (Distinct. 15. Cap. „ Sancta") der Bericht vom Heimgang der heiligen Maria verurteilt und unter die apokryphen Schriften gezählt wird, wie auch jener Bericht, der über die Geburt des Heilandes, die heilige Maria und die Hebamme des Heilandes etc. herausgegeben wurde. Daher mahnen wir auch, daß jene, die die Disputation des Antonius in seiner Geschichte (Tit. 6, Cap. 3) über den Heimgang Mariens mit Verstand lesen, und alle lernen mögen, wie un fruchtbar und gefährlich es ist, neugierig zu forschen und darüber reden zu wollen, was uns in der Heiligen Schrift vorenthalten ist. Es möge uns genügen, schlicht und einfach zu glauben und zu bekennen, daß die Jungfrau Maria, die liebe Mutter unseres Herrn Jesus Christus, durch die Gnade und das Blut ihres eigenen Sohnes ganz geheiligt und durch die Gabe des Heiligen Geists überreich beschenkt und allen Frauen vorgezogen, und endlich, wie von den Engeln selber, von allen Geschlechtern wahrhaft selig gepriesen, jetzt lücklichmit Christus im Himmel lebe und daß sie ewige Jungfrau genannt werde und auch sei und bleibe, nämlich Gottesgebärerin, deren Andenken unter den Gläubigen in der Kirche stetig und festlich, jedoch fromm und nicht abergläubisch sein soll.Here is the Latin text:
The Latin text doesn't say anything different than Tappolet's German: Eusebius Caesariensis episcopus, omnis uetustatis, ad miraculum usque, omnium diligentissimus indagator, in Chronicus suis, sub anno a' natiuitate Domine 48. qui nimirum erat 15. a morte Domini annus, paucula annotans, Maria virgo, inquit, Iesu Christi mater, ad filium in ccelum assumitur, ut quidam fuisse fibi reuelatum scribunt.
Addendum: What Did Eusebius Say?
In the Chronicon of Eusebius, there is a disputed passage that reads, "Mary the Virgin the mother of Jesus, was taken up into heaven as some write that it has been revealed to them." The Catholic Encyclopedia notes the passage is spurious:
"There is no certain tradition as to the year of Mary's death. Baronius in his Annals relies on a passage in the Chronicon of Eusebius for his assumption that Mary died A.D. 48. It is now believed that the passage of the Chronicon is a later interpolation."