« Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini Aepinus, Johannes Aerius »

Aepinus, Johannes

ÆPINUS, ê-pî´nus, JOHANNES (Johann Hoeck): The first Lutheran superintendent of Hamburg; b. at Ziesar or Ziegesar (29 m. e.n.e. of Magdeburg), in the march of Brandenburg, 1499; d. in Hamburg May 13, 1553. He was a diligent student as a boy, and was under Bugenhagen’s instruction, probably while the latter was rector of the monastery of Belbuck. He took his bachelor’s degree at Wittenberg in 1520; here he became the friend of Luther and Melanchthon. Then he had a school in Brandenburg, but was persecuted and imprisoned for his reforming activity, and had to leave home. Partly on account of the malice of his enemies, he adopted the modified form of the Greek word aipeinos (“lofty”), by which he is generally known, and which he claimed was a translation of his real name (Hoeck = hoch). He spent some time in Pomerania, in close relations with the leaders of the Reformation there. From about 1524 to 1528 he was in Stralsund, in charge of a school (probably private). The local authorities asked him to draw up an order of ecclesiastical discipline (Kirchenordnung), which went into effect Nov. 5, 1525. In Oct., 1529, he succeeded Johann Boldewan as pastor of St. Peter’s in Hamburg. He carried on vigorously the work of his teacher and friend, Bugenhagen, and was chiefly instrumental in introducing his order of discipline in Hamburg. His contest with the cathedral chapter, which still adhered to the old faith, gave occasion to the earliest of his extant writings, Pinacidion de Romanæ ecclesiæ imposturis (1530). On May 18, 1532 he was appointed to the highest office in the Lutheran Church of Hamburg, that of superintendent according to Bugenhagen’s order of discipline. In 1534 he visited England at the request of Henry VIII., to advise him as to his divorce and as to the carrying forward of the Reformation there. He returned to Hamburg in the following January, and subsequently made numerous journeys as a representative of the city in important affairs. He took part in all the church movements of the time, and frequently had the deciding voice in disputed matters. Melanchthon considered his work on the interim (1548) the best that had been written, though it did not agree with his own views.

In all his writings Æpinus displays great theological learning and equal gentleness of temper. He gave weekly theological lectures, usually in Latin, which were attended by the preachers and other learned men, and spent much time on the Psalms, taking up especially the questions which at the moment were agitating men’s minds. He is best known by the controversy which arose over his teaching as to the descent of Christ into Hades. In 1542, finding that the article of the creed on this subject was frequently explained as meaning no more than the going down into the grave, in his lecture on the sixteenth psalm, he put forward the view, already given in Luther’s explanation of the Psalms, that Christ had really gone down into hell, to deliver men from its power. Garcæus, his successor at St. Peter’s, called him to account for this teaching, but left Hamburg in the following year and did not return until 1546. Meantime Æpinus’s commentary on Ps. xvi. had been published by his assistant Johann Freder, so that his view was widely known.

The controversy became a public and a bitter one after Garcæus’s return, and both sides sought to gain support from Wittenberg. Melanchthon could only say that there was no agreement among the doctors on this point, and counsel peace. Æpinus’s opponents in Hamburg were so turbulent that their leaders were deprived of their offices and banished from the city in 1551. The principal monument of Æpinus’s activity in Hamburg is his ordinances for the church there, which he drew up in 1539 at the request of the council. It was a necessary amplification of that of Bugenhagen, and seems to have remained in force until 1603.

(Carl Bertheau.)

Bibliography: N. Staphorst, Hamburgische Kirchengeschichte, II. i., Hamburg, 1729; A. Greve, Memoria J. Æpini instaurata, ib. 1736; N. Wilckens, Hamburgischer Ehrentempel, pp. 248-280, ib. 1770; F. H. R. Frank, Theologie der Konkordienformel, 4 vols., Erlangen, 1858-65; Schaff, Creeds, i. 296-298.

« Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini Aepinus, Johannes Aerius »
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