Martin Luther shot to fame five hundred years ago with his protest against indulgences in October 1517. At the core of his message was the straightforward idea that the answer to every religious question was to be found in the Bible, the Word of God, taken in its plain and simple sense.
As we now know, it didn’t quite work out. The Word of God just wasn’t as plain and simple as Luther thought. Rival prophets, from erudite theologians down to everyday cranks, read the same Word of God with different and sometimes swivelling eyes, and came to very different conclusions. Ulrich Zwingli, the godfather of the Reformation in Zurich, preached his distinctive brand of Christianity from the pulpit of the city’s Grössmunster church in the 1520s.