Emser, Hieronymus

Emser, Hieronymus a Roman Catholic divine, and one of the most Violent of Luther's opponents in the Reformation, was born at Ulm March 26, 1477. After having begun his studies at Tubingen, he went to continue them at Basle, where he applied himself to jurisprudence, theology, and Hebrew. He accompanied cardinal Raymond de Gurk, who had appointed him his chaplain and secretary, through Germany and Italy in 1500-1502. Some time after he became lecturer at Erfurt, which he quitted (1504) to reside at the University of Leipzic, where he taught canonical law. About the same time, George, duke of Saxony, took him as his private secretary. The duke, who had a desire to procure the canonization of bishop Benno, of Meissen, employed Emser to visit a number of convents, especially in Bohemia, to collect information concerning Benno; and in 1510 sent him to Rome. On his return from Rome he received from the duke two prebends, at Dresden and Meissen. About this time he' also appears to have been consecrated a priest. His recovery from a severe sickness he ascribed to the intercession of bishop Benno, and was thereby induced to write a eulogy of him (Divi Bennonis Vita, Lips. 1512). With Luther, whose reformatory zeal had already begun to attract attention, Emser remained on good terms until the time of the Leipzig disputation (1519). Luther called him Emser noster (our Emser), and was kindly received by Eraser when he had to preach before duke George at Dresden. The literary controversy between Emser and Luther commenced soon after the Leipzic disputation with a letter from Emser to Dr. Zack, provost at Leitmneritz, in which the opinion was expressed that Luther had nothing in common with the Bohemian Hussites, and an intimation was given that Luther was ready to abandon his reformatory views. As Emser, who was descended from a noble family, used in this letter his escutcheon, the forepart of a he-goat, Luther addressed his very bitter reply to the "Wild-goat Emser" (ad AEgocerotem Emseranum, Wittenberg, 1519), and in his subsequent writings generally called him "the he-goat of Leipzic," or "He-goat Emser." In his reply, Emser called Luther's theology "novel and cynic," and represented Luther's reformatory labors as merely the result of the jealousy of the Augustinian monks against the Dominicans. Emser also attacked Carlstadt, Zwingle, Pirkheimer, and other reformers; was soon joined by Eck, and thus helped to kindle a violent controversy all through Germany. In 1520 Luther burned Emser's writings along with the papal bull and the decretals. As Emser's works were almost wholly personal invectives, the interest in them soon ceased, and in the history of the Reformation they are of little significance. As duke George forbade Luther's translation of the Bible, Emser, in 1527, published another German translation made from the Vulgate. Emser branded Luther's version as a horrible corruption; but at present even the Roman Catholic writers of Germany acknowledge that Emser's version is of no value, and, in a literary point of view, greatly inferior to that of Luther. Emser died November 8, 1527, where and how is not known. The titles of the numerous works of Emser may be found in Waldau, Nachrichten von Emser's Leben und Schriften (Anspach, 1783). See Neudecker, in Herzog, Real-Encykl. 3:782; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Gener. 16:17. (A.J.S.)

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