Pellican, Konrad Kirsner

Pellican, Konrad Kirsner, a noted German divine of the Reformation period, was born at Ruff bach, in the Rhenish province of Alsatia, in 1478. He was kept at school in his native place until he was fifteen years old, when his parents, who were poor, sent him to an uncle at Heidelberg to study there. But in 1493 he was deprived of all help, and he entered the Order of Cordeliers. Some time after he returned to Heidelberg, and thence went to Tubingen, where his success in study commanded great admiration. His proficiency in Hebrew was indeed surprising. He was a great favorite of the learned Franciscan — general Paul(us) Scriptoris, and while traveling found a companion in the converted Jew Pfedersheim, who presented him with a copy of the Hebrew prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the minor ones. Although he had never studied Hebrew, he yet, by the aid of Reuchlin's rules on Hebrew conjugations simply, applied himself to its acquisition with such zeal that by the end of three months he had finished reading it, selected the roots, and arranged them in the form of a concordance. In the last-named work, however, he had the help of a Jew from Spain, Matthaus Adriani. In the year 1501 Pellican was ordained presbyter. In that year he lost his parents, and on the occasion he transcribed the seven penitential psalms in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. to which he subjoined many appropriate prayers. The year following he received the degree of D.D. at Basle, and was made divinity lecturer at the Minorite convent. About this time he assisted in the preparation of Augustine's works for the press. In 1517 he went to Rome on business for his order, and was in that city impressed with the corrupt condition of the papacy, just as Luther had been, whose reformatory steps Pellican could therefore most heartily approve. Returning to Basle, he assumed again, in 1519, the guardianship of his Franciscan cloister there. In 1522 he became acquainted with OEcolampadius, and was soon suspected of reformatory tendencies. Thus in this very year, at a chapter of the order in Leonberg, in Suabia, and at another in Basle, he was constantly inquired about and watched by one Satzger, the provincial of the order. But as the senate of Basle interceded in Pellican's behalf, no measures of censure were put in force against him. Shortly after he was, together with OEcolampadius, made lecturer in divinity, and as he dared to expound the Scriptures and to adopt reformatory measures, he was sorely persecuted and maligned, as were all Reformers. So long as he had remained a friar he had been universally esteemed for his learning and integrity; but when it pleased God to convince him of the errors and absurdities of the papal Church, and he began publicly to expose them, he was directly made the object of its hate and persecution. In 1526, having at the request of Zwingli gone to Zurich for the purpose of hearing the lectures of Leo Judat on Hebrew, he there renounced popery, and was soon after married. A little while later he was by Zwingli's interest made a professor of Greek and Hebrew at Zurich, and he evinced his fitness for the position by the publication of an edition of the Hebrew Bible, with the comments of Aben-Ezra and R. Salamon (1527). In his first lectures on the 15th chapter of Exodus, he thanked God who had brought him out of the Egyptian and papistic captivity, helped him to pass the Red Sea, and sing the song of Miriam with joy — "Sing ye to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously." He diligently applied himself also to the study of the Turkish language, that he might be useful to some who had become his neighbors, by efforts for their conversion to the Christian faith. During the thirty years that he was professor at Zurich, he was universally admired for his extensive learning and unwearied labors. He died in 1556, and was succeeded in his position by the illustrious Peter Martyr. His works consist principally of lectures and annotations upon the Scriptures, translations from the Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Chaldee; also an exposition of several books of the Old and New Testaments, together with a translation from Ludovicus Vives, designed to convince the Jews of the truth of Christianity. His most important publications are, Psalterium Davidis ad Hebraicam veritatem interpretatunz cum scholiis brevissimis (Strasburg, 1527, 8vo); the Zurich edition of 1532, in 8vo, is more carefully prepared and more complete: — Commentarii Bibliornum cum vulgata editione, sed ad Hebraicam lectionenn accurate emendata (Zurich, 1531-36, 5 vols. fol.). Richard Simon says of this work: "He keeps to the literal sense, and does not lose sight of the words of his text. Though well read in rabbinical authors, he seeks more to be useful to his readers than to display his rabbinical lore. He considers it safest to borrow nothing from the Jews but grammatical observations." The characteristics of Pellican were sincerity, candor, uprightness, and humility, rendering him eminent in public life, and in private most amiable. See, besides the chronicle of his life which he has himself written, Fabricius, Oratio hist. de vita Pellicani (1608); Hess, Pellican's Jugendeschichte (1795); Hottinger, Altes u. Neues aus der Gelehrtenwelt; Merle d'Aubigne, Hist. of the Ref. in Switzerland; Adam, Vita theol. German. 1:126 sq.; Hagenbach, Vater u. Begrunder der ref.

Kirche; Ersch u. Gruber, Allgemeine Encyklopadie; Middleton, Evangel. Biogr. 2:60.

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