Strigel, Victorin

Strigel, Victorin, a Melancthonian Lutheran and professor at Jena, was born Dec. 26, 1514. He studied philosophy and theology at Freiburg and Wittenberg, and in 1544 began to lecture in those departments. The Smalkald war interrupted his career at Wittenberg, and he drifted about in consequence to Magdeburg, to Königsberg, and to Erfurt, where he renewed his professorial labors, though not regularly appointed to a chair. A settlement for him was obtained when the Ernestine gymnasium at Jena was founded and Melancthon refused to connect himself with its faculty, upon which Strigel was invited to take the vacant position. He arrived at Jena March 9, 1548, with twenty students, and gave himself earnestly to the work of promoting the growth and prosperity of the institution, whose first rector he became. In this work he was aided by Stigel, Schnepf, Justus Joinas (q.v.), and others, with whom he labored in entire harmony; but when Flacius (q.v.) arrived in 1557, a period of disturbance was introduced. The Flacianists urged duke John Frederic II to promulgate a confession of faith which should at the same time be a confutation of all errors, and the duke committed the preparation of the document to Strigel, Schnepf, and superintendent Hugel, all of whom protested against its promulgation as unnecessary and dangerous. Strigel offered to resign from the, faculty rather than engage in the work asked at his hands, and finally declared openly that he adhered to the teaching of Melancthon's Loci of 1544. When the Flacian Confutation of 1559 was issued and was given almost symbolical authority in the churches of Ernestine Saxony, Strigel remonstrated and declared that he could not accept the confutation as of binding authority. The duke thereupon caused both him and Hugel to be seized by armed men on the night of March 25, and imprisoned until August, when after endeavors to force him to a change of views by means of disputations with Flacius and of threatenings, he was liberated in deference to the intercession of the university, the most prominent evangelical princes, and even the emperor; but he was ordered to remain quiet and not depart from Jena until he should have made satisfactory reply to the questions on which his views were required, a sentence which became the more easy to fulfill as he fell into fever and melancholia soon after his release from prison. The brutal treatment he had undergone excited general indignation, and the duke was forced to yield so far as to appoint a colloquy between Strigel and Flacius, which began Aug. 2, 1560, at Weimar. Five points of doctrine were to be discussed, but only the first, concerning the relation of the human will to divine grace in the work of conversion, was taken up. Strigel advocated, as always, the synergistic view, and pressed his arguments with such force and skill that Flacius allowed himself to be drawn into the assertion that original sin is the very substance of man in his natural state. After this colloquy the temper of the court began to change; and when the Flacianists persisted in pressing for a condemnation of Strigel despite an intimation that the duke desired peace, the extreme measure was taken of depriving Flacius of his professorship and expelling him with his followers from the university. Strigel, on the other hand, was rehabilitated in his chair; a declaration was issued and a visitation of the churches was ordered to pacify and unite their members.

The plan encountered strong opposition, however, and Strigel, to avoid further controversy, undertook a journey to Leipsic in the autumn of 1562, and then refused to return, though urged to come back by a deputation from Jena. The elector permitted him to choose between Leipsic and Wittenberg as the field of his future labors. He chose Leipsic. In March 1563, he began to lecture on philosophy and theology, and in connection with his general duties he prepared a commentary on the Psalms, in which his synergistic views were clearly expressed. The odium theologicum pursued him into this refuge also, and in February 1567, the rector closed his lecture room and forbade the further exercise of his professorship. Appeal to the elector produced no result, and he once more sought a place where he might rest in peace. He went first to Amberg and then to Heidelberg, where he became professor of ethics, and engaged in teaching with his usual success and acceptability; but he soon afterwards died, on June 26, 1569. He ranks among the most gifted of Melancthon's pupils, and among the influential men of his time with respect both to his academical and ecclesiastical position and to his literary activity. Strigel's works include philological studies (Euripides), Aristotelian philosophy (Ethics and Dialectics), and theology. We mention, Hypomnemata in Omnes Libros N.T., etc. (Lips. 2 pts. 8vo): — Loci Theologici, etc. (Neustadt, 4 pts. with appendix, edited by Pezel, 1581-84): — Hypomn. in Epitom. Philosophioe Moralis P. Melancthon, (also by Pezel, ibid. 1582). Strigel included much compilation in his works, though himself a clear and strong thinker. He possessed an extraordinary memory, and followed the principle of a common ownership in literary property; but he made no secret, of his method, and desired others to draw from him in a similar way. In other respects he was a worthy character, if a passionate and ambitious nature be left out of the account. See Adam, Vitoe Theol. p. 417 sq.; Bayle, Dict. s.v.; Erdmann, De Strigelianismo (Jena, 1658; Hanover, 1675, 4to); Merz, Hist. Vitoe et Controvers V. Strigelii (Tub. 1732); Otto, De Strig Liberioris Mentis in Eccl. Luth. Viudice (Jena, 1843).

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