GEIL, WILLIAM EDGAR: Baptist layman; b. near Doylestown, Pa., Oct. 1, 1865. He was graduated at Lafayette College in 1890 and in 1896 spent six months in an archeological tour of Asia
GEILER,gai'ler, JOHANN, OF KAISERSBERG: Roman Catholic preacher; b. at Schaffhausen Mar. 16, 1445; d. at Strasburg Mar. 10, 1510.
He was educated in the elementary branches at Ammeraweier, a small town in the neighborhood of Kaisersberg in Upper Alsace, where his father was town secretary. At the age of fifteen he entered the University of Freiburg. In 1462 he was made bachelor and two years later master of arts. As such he lectured on Aristotle and Latin gram mar, and for a short time was dean of the philosophical faculty. In 1471 he went to Basel to. study theology. After promotion he lectured on exegesis and Peter Lombard and, in 1475, was made doctor of theology. At the request of students the town council of Freiburg induced him to return to the university there, and according to custom he became first rector of the university for the winter term of 1476-77. But his talents inclined him toward the office of preacher, and Peter Schott, Ammeister of Strasburg, prevailed upon him to settle there, where there was a lack of good preach ers. With the firm determination to reform the depraved morals of the city, he entered upon his calling (1478) and remained at Strasburg, until the end of his life.
He preached fearlessly and without regard of persons. At the opening of a synod convoked by Bishop Albert he censured the assembled officers for their selfishness and worldliness and demanded a reform of morals among the clergy. In the interest of the Church he fell into several disputes with the magistrates on account of their refusal to grant the Holy Communion and a Christian funeral to persons condemned to death; he also made war against the tendency of civil legislators to encroach upon the liberty of citizens who intended to bequeath their property to the Church. His vehement attacks were, however, often powerless and without effect. In the same way he denounced the abuses of church life, as, for instance, the carousals and debauches at church festivals, the masquerades at the beginning of Lent, the pursuit of worldly business during church hours, and the sales in the vestibules of the churches. In these battles he found an almost insuperable obstacle in the tenacity with which the people held to tradition and the lenient ways followed hitherto by the clergy. Sometimes his invectives against the city council in the pulpit were so violent that he was called to account; as an answer he published twenty-one articles which contained his demands of reform. With the same relentless vigor he reproved abuses among the ecclesiastical classes. Many, he knew, chose the clerical profession only because of their laziness. He deplored the accumulation of benefices and the preference given to noblemen irrespective of their merits. Not less fiercely he attacked the abuses in monasteries; the sins of the rich, the degeneration in army circles, luxury in dress, fads, and immorality. It is a mistake, however, to look upon Geiler as a precursor of the .Reformation. His view of life centered in Catholicism and medievalism. In spite of his high esteem for the Bible he considered its explanation subject to the consensus of the theologians. Over against the awakening of humanism he remained a scholastic of the old school. He commended indulgences and good works for the achievement of salvation and regarded the saints as intercessors before God.
When Count Frederick of Zollern, a devoted pupil and friend of Geiler, was chosen bishop of Augsburg, he invited his Strasburg friends, among them Geiler, to prepare him for his office. The eminent preacher accepted and preached in Augsburg several months until he was called back by his anxious congregation. Now he devoted himself entirely to the affairs of his own town. Together with his friend Jacob Wimpfeling he tried to reform the school system; but their efforts were not successful and Geiler, in spite of his appreciation as preacher, came at the end of his life to the conclusion that a general reform of Christianity was impossible. The only achievements possible, according to him, were isolated reforms on a small scale.
Most of the literature which is considered to-day as Geiler's production did not proceed directly from his pen. His sermons were either copied, and prepared for print, or sometimes he simply handed over his Latin notes, from which his sermons were reconstructed in German or these notes were used after his death. It will therefore always be a question how far his publications are authentic. Some of his editors are unknown; of those known may be mentioned Jacob Otther of Speyer; the physician Johann Adelphus Milling; Johann Pauli, the well-known author of the humorous collection Schimpf and Ernst; Heinrich Wesarner; and Peter Wickram, Geiler's sermons lasted usually one hour. He gave free range in the pulpit to his talents of popular oratory in the vernacular. and his spontaneous invention of anecdotes, com parisons, word plays, and proverbs give his sermons their charm. They are either sermons on the Gospel arranged in the form of homilies or consist of series which are grouped around one 'common picture. To the scholastics be owes his fondness for analyzing his material into divisions and sub divisions and his tendency to quote recognized authorities. His interest centers chiefly in the daily happenings of public and private life. Satire and humor are his principal weapons. He makes his sermons interesting by striking similes which some-
Bibliography: Geiler's Ausgewdhlte Schriften, ed. P. de Lorenzi (with omission of "offensive" passages), appeared in four volumes at Treves, 1881-83. The two early works on Geiler by J. Wimpfeling (1510) and B. Rhenanus (1513) are in J. A. von Riegger, Amlenitates literaria Friburpenses, Ulm, 1755. Consult: L. Daeheux (Roman Catholic), Un R6formateur catholique a la fin du ave. sickle, Paris, 1876; C. Schmidt (Protestant), Histoire littéraire de l'Alsace, i. 335-461, Paris, 1879; ADB, viii. 509.
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