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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Justus Menius

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JUSTUS MENIUS (1499-1558), Lutheran theologian, whose name is Latinized from Jost or Just (i.e. Jodocus) Menig, was born at Fulda, of poor but respectable parents, on the 13th of December 1499. Entering the university of Erfurt in 1514, he took the bachelor's degree in 1515, the master's in 1516. At this time, in association with the keen humanists Conrad Mutian, Crotus Rubeanus and Eoban Hess, he was of sceptical tendency; moving to Wittenberg in 1519, he became evangelical under the teaching of Melanchthon and the preaching of Luther. After travel in Italy (1521-1522) he was appointed (1523) town's preacher at Wittenberg, but was soon transferred to the charge of Miihlberg, under Erfurt. Here he published his commentary on Acts (1524) and married. He resigned his charge (1525) and opened a school at Erfurt, but the town council insisted on his resuming his ministry, appointing him preacher in St Thomas', Erfurt. He worked in conjunction with Luther's friend, John Lange, and was opposed by the Franciscans under Conrad Kling. Hence he left for Gotha (1528), resumed teaching, and enjoyed the friendship of Friedrich Myconius. Duke John of Saxony had placed him on the commission for church visitation in Thuringia, and in 1529 appointed him pastor and superintendent at Eisenach, where for eighteen years he administered church affairs with tact, and fostered the spread of education. In 1529 he brought out his Oeconomia christiana (a treatise in German, on the right ordering of a Christian household) with a dedication to the duchess Sybil of Saxony and a preface by Luther. His tractate, written in concert with Myconius, controverting Der Wiedertaufer Lehre and Geheimniss (1530) was also prefaced by Luther. The reversion to the Roman communion of his old friend Crotus led to his mordant Responsio amici (1532, anon.) to the Apologia (1531) of Crotus. He took his part in the theological disputations of the time, at Marburg (1529), the Concordia at Wittenberg (1536), the Convention at Schmalkalden (1537), the discussions at Hagenau and Worms (1540). His tractate (1542) against the permission of bigamy in the case of Philip of Hesse was not allowed to be printed (the manuscript is in the Heidelberg university library). In 1542 he removed to Miihlhausen, being appointed by Duke Henry of Saxony for the ordering of the church there. On the death of Myconius (1546) he was entrusted with the oversight of Gotha, in addition to that of Eisenach; to Gotha he returned in 1547. The remainder of his life was not happy. He was against the Leipzig Interim (1548) with its compromise on some Catholic usages, and was involved in controversies and quarrels; with Georgius Merula, against whom he maintained the need of exorcism in baptism; with Osiander's adherents in the matter of justification; with his colleague, Nicholas von Amsdorf, to whom he had resigned the Eisenach superintendency; with Flacius Illyricus, and others. He lost favour with Duke John Frederic of Saxony, fell into bad health, was deposed (1555) from his offices, and was disappointed in his hopes of being reinstated, after the colloquy at Eisenach (1J56). He died at Leipzig on the lath of August 1558. He was twice married, and had several sons, of whom Eusebius held a chair of philosophy at Wittenberg, and married Melanchthon's grand-daughter, Anna Sabinus. Schmidt gives a full bibliography of the numerous writings of Menius, who translated several of Luther's biblical commentaries into German. His Oeconomia was reprinted in 1855

See G. L. Schmidt, Justus Menius, der Reformator Thilringens (1867); Wagenmann, in Allgemeine deutsche Biog. (1885); G. Kawerau, in Hauck's Realencyklopetdie (1903). (A. Go.*)

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Justus Menius'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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