Osiander, Andreas (1)
Osiander, Andreas (1), a distinguished German theologian of the Reformation period, and a disciple of Luther, was born at Gunzenhausen, in Bavaria, Dec. 19, 1498. His father was a blacksmith, called Hosemann, out of which name his son, after the fashion of his time, manufactured the classic-sounding name Osiander. Andreas studied successively at Leipsic, Altenburg, and Ingolstadt, and acquired great proficiency in the dead languages, particularly in Hebrew, as also in theology, mathematics, and even in medicine. After completing his studies, he was made teacher of theology in an Augustinian convent at Nuremberg, but in 1522 accepted the principles of the Reformation, and became an evangelical preacher in one of the churches of that city. He labored with marked success for the Reformation, frequently defending it in public conferences against the Roman Catholic clergy. His eloquence gained him great reputation, and he was soon looked upon as one of the principal followers of Luther. Gieseler speaks of Osiander as at this time "the highly endowed Reformer of Nuremberg" (Eccles. Hist. 4:469 sq.). In 1529 he was sent to the Conference of Marburg, whose object was to reconcile the Lutheran and Swiss theologians, principally on the doctrine of the Eucharist. Osiander seems to have sided on that point most consistently with Luther against Zwingli, but on the doctrine of justification he held some peculiar views, yet they did not differ enough from those of the Lutherans to make him break from them. In 1539 he was one of the Protestant theologians who appeared before the Diet of Augsburg to advocate the cause of the Reformation. He took an active part in the proceedings which resulted in the drawing up of the Confession of Augsburg. In 1546 he attended at the conference in Smalcald (q.v.). But upon the publication of the Interim (May 15, 1548) Osiander felt that he could no longer stay at Nuremberg, and he retired, after twenty-seven years of successful Reformatory labors there, in 1549, to the court of duke Albert of Prussia, who had formerly been much pleased with his preaching. It is said that he expected to be called to England, but that Cranmer refrained from inviting him on account of his combative tendencies. Albert, however, offered him the professorship of theology in the newly organized University of Konigsberg. Osiander accepted this position, as it allowed him full scope for the spread of his doctrinal views. These were somewhat peculiar, and differed from those of the other Reformers, particularly on the question of justification. In opposition to the external view of justification by faith alone, as they taught it, Osiander insisted that "faith is the medium of the indwelling of Christ in the human soul." This form of statement he proved from Luther's writings was authorized, but he used it, in distinction from Luther, to describe living faith as appropriating Christ, and thus developed the view in a mode akin to. that of the German mystics of the 14th century. The principal fault in Osiander's doctrine was, especially, the unwarrantable stress he laid upon his peculiar shape of the dogma, constituting justification and redemption as only one act. His doctrine seems to have amounted to the following propositions:
1. That Christ, considered in his human nature only, could not by his obedience to the divine law obtain justification and pardon for sinners; neither can we be justified before God by embracing and applying to ourselves, through faith, the righteousness and obedience of the man Christ. It is only through that eternal and essential righteousness which dwells in Christ considered as God, and which resides in his divine nature united to the human, that mankind can obtain complete justification.
2. That a man becomes partaker of this divine righteousness by faith, since it is in consequence of this uniting principle that Christ dwells in the heart of man with his divine righteousness. Now, wherever this divine righteousness dwells, there God can behold no sin; therefore, when it is present with Christ in the hearts of the regenerate, they are, on its own account, considered by the Deity as righteous, although they be sinners. Moreover, this divine and justifying righteousness of Christ excites the faithful to the pursuit of holiness and to the practice of virtue. Osiander indeed maintained that what was called justification by orthodox theologians should be more properly designated redemption (illustrated by the case of a Moor ransomed from slavery). In his opinion the signification of δικαιοῦν is to "make just;" it is only by metonymy that it can mean "to pronounce a person just" (comp. Planck, 4:249 sq.; Tholuck's Anzeiger, 1833, No. 54, 55; Schenkel, 2:355). He was opposed by Francis Staphylus. Morlin, and others. (On Osiander's doctrine in its earliest form [after 1524], see Heberle in the Studien u. Kritiken, 1844; it is further developed in the two disputations which he held, A.D. 1549 and 1550, in his treatise De unico Mediatore, 1551, and in various sermons.) Says Baur, in his Dogmengesch. p. 332: "Justification, according to Osiander, is the mystical union of mall with Christ as the absolute principle of righteousness. The believer is so embodied in Christ that in this living concrete unity he is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone.... The Formula Concordiae is incorrect in representing his doctrine as excluding the human nature of Christ from the work of redemption." As Osiander considered justification, it is evidently not to be understood as a judicial act of God, as it was held by the Reformers, who all adopted on this point the theory of Anselm, but as something subjective, as a communication of an inner justice operating directly upon conscience. This doctrine was never violently attacked by the Lutherans, though they were opposed to it so long as Luther's magnanimous spirit was able to restrain in the new Church all controversies which did not seem to him to be indispensable for preserving the purity of truths leading to salvation. While at Nuremberg Osiander therefore escaped violent opposition, but when established at Konigsberg, so much farther removed from the personal influence of his own devoted friends, and the great Reformer himself no longer on earth to stay the strife, the jealousy of competitors, the newness of Osiander's views, joined to a certain freedom — much removed, however, from immorality — of manners, created many enemies, and involved him in bitter controversies, which commenced with his first disputations, De lege et Evangelio (1549), De Justificatione (1550). The strife was for a while subdued by the authorities, who favored Osiander and exiled his opponents, but broke out with renewed violence when he published in Latin and in German his Confession, entitled in the former De unico mediatore Jes. Chr. etjustificationefidei Confessio n. Osiandri (Regiom. Oct. 1551, 4to), or in German Bekenntniss v. d. einigen Mittler Jes. Christ. u. v. d. Rechtfertigung (1551; 2d ed. 1552). Osiander by this publication simply inflamed the strife, because he here treated his opponents with arrogance and harshness. Morlin (q.v.), who had been made pastor at Konigsberg in September of this year, tried in vain to adjust the controversy; and when all seemed lost for Osiander, his devoted friend the duke called for a judgment from the theologians of all the German estates of the Augsburg Confession. The Wurtemberg judgment alone tried to vindicate the essential agreement of Osiander with Lutheranism, and this only the duke presented, but failed, nevertheless, to bring about a peaceful settlement. Osiander was finally, on account of his heretical views, called before the Synod of Wittenberg, but it declined to inderdict him; and before he could be the subject of further controversy he died, at Konigsberg, Oct. 17,1552. His faithful adherents, who continued the controversy after his death, are called Osiandrians (see below).
Osiander was well versed in mathematics, astronomy, and physics. He was very eloquent, but he had all the coarseness of his age; he overwhelmed his adversaries with insults, unbecoming jokes, and cynical jests. His works were numerous, but are now altogether forgotten; the most important are, Conjecture de ultimis temporibus ac de fine mundi (Nuremb. 1544, 4to): — Harmoniae evangelicae, libri iv, Greece et Latine (Basle. 1537, fol.; ibid. 1561, Greek and Latin; Paris. Robert Estienne, 1545, Latin only; translated into German by J. Schweinzer, Frankfort, 1540, 8vo). This is the first Protestant Harmony, but it is worthless because Osiander labored under the new and erroneous opinion that the four Gospels, instead of being a narration of the same events, were an account of four different periods, chronologically following each other, and that the similitude of events was the result of a similarity of circumstances: — Biblia sacra, quce praeter antiquae Latince versionis necessariam emendationem, et diffciliorum locorum succinctam explicationem, multas insuper utilissimas observationes, continet (Tibing. 1600, fol.; four times reprinted). Osiander was the first to publish Copernicus's Astronomy, to which he wrote a preface (Nuremb. 1543. 4to). See, besides the works already referred to, Adam, Vitoe theologorum Germanorum; Teissier, Eloges des hommes savants, 1:110, 111; Jocher, Allg. Gelehrten-Lexikon; Musee des Protestants celebres; Moerlinos, Historia Osiandris; Wigandus, De Osiandrismo (1583, 4to); Wilken, And. Osiander's Leben, Lehre u. Schriften (Strasburg, 1844, 8vo); Lehnerdt, De Andr. Osiandro (Kinigsb. 1837, 8vo); Leben und ausgewahlte Schriften 'der Voter und Begriinder der Lutherischen Kirche, by Hartmann, Moller, Schmidt, etc., vol. v; Moller, Andreas Osiander, Leben und ausgewihlte Schriften (Elberfeld, 1869, 8vo); Baur, Lehre v. d. Versohnung, p. 329; A cta Osiandristica (Regiom. 1553. 4to); Joach. Morlin, Historia (1554); Arnold, Unpart. Kirchenu. Ketzerhistorie, II, vol. xvi, c. 24; Walch, Religionsstreit. . . Evang. — Luth. Kirchen (1733, 1739); Schrockh, Kirchengesch. seit d. Reform. 4:572 sq.; Planck, Gesch. d. pmotestantischeni Lehmrbegrijfs, vol. iv, v, vi; Baur, Disquisitio in A. Osiandri de justificatione docti inam (Tubingen, 1831); Dorner, Entwickelunqsgesch. v. d. Person Christi (2d ed. 1854, p. 576-591); Farrar, Crit. Hist. of Free Thought; Buchanan, Doct. of Justification; Gass, Gesch. der protest. Dogmatik, 1:61 sq.; Held, De opere Jesu Christi salutari, quid M. Lutherus senserit demonstratur (Gott. 1860); Frank, Ad eccles. de satisf. Christi doctrinam, quid redimaverit ex lite Osiandrian. (Erl. 1858); Grau, De A ndr. Osiandri Doctrina Commentatio (1860); Neander, Hist. of Christian Dogmas; Gieseler, Eccles. Hist. 2:469-481; Hardwick, Hist. of Doctrines, 2:286 sq.; Bullet. Theol. Jan. 1867, p. 23; Jahrb. Deutscher Theol. 1857.