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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Murner, Thomas

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a noted German satirist and most decided opponent of the Reformation, was born in Strasburg December 24, 1475. He early entered a Franciscan monastery, and then studied at the principal universities of Europe, devoting himself particularly to theology and philosophy, and quickly gained a reputation for ability, marred, however, by a want of earnestness and a quarrelsome disposition. At Paris he acquired the degree of A.M., and in 1506 the emperor Maximilian nominated him poeta laureatus. He lost a place in the conventual Latin school of Strasburg by his invective against Wimpfeling, and afterwards led an unsteady life, preaching for some time at Frankfort-on-the-Main (1512). At this time he battled against the clerical crimes and abuses, generally incurring the displeasure of his congregation by the coarse personalities of his sermons. He was successively expelled from Freiburg, Troves, and Venice. In 1512 he edited his Narrenbeschworung, of which his Der Schelmen Zunft (Frankfort, 1512) may be regarded as a continuation. These works, which show considerable satirical talents, are remarkable imitations of Sebastian Brandt's celebrated poem, called Narrenschif. In his Gauchmatt (Basle, 1519) he ridicules the effeminate manhood of some of his contemporaries; and in his Logica memorativa, or Chartiludium logicae, and in his Ludus studentium Friburgensium he proves himself a predecessor of the renowned pedagogue, Basedow, trying to show how logic and prosody may be studied to advantage at different games.

In 1519 he seems to have resumed his functions in the conventual school of Strasburg, and made himself conspicuous as one of the most virulent opponents of the Reformation. When Hedio and Capito were preaching at Strasburg, Murner opposed them violently (see Hottinger, Helvetische Kirchengesch. 3:145). As ambassador of the bishop of Strasburg, he afterwards attended the Diet at Nuremberg to accuse the Council of Strasburg (Sleidan, volume 4). He opposed Luther's book, An den Adel deutscher Nation, by a work of similar title, An den grossmachtigsten und durchlauchtigsten Adel deutscher Nation, dass sie den christlichen Glauben beschirmen wider den Zerstorer des Glaubens Christi, Martinum Luther, einen Verfuhrer der einfaltigen Christen. Although he translated Luther's Letter against Henry VIII, and his Babylonische Gefangenschaft from Latin into German, he rejected all his teachings entirely. He called Luther a Catilina, and received himself the name of Lutheromastix. According to a letter of Luther to Brismann, Murner left the monastery (De Wette, 2:58). This statement, however, is incorrect. In 1523 Murner repaired to England, in compliance with an invitation from Henry VIII, but troubles in his convent compelled him to return. Some of his writings against the Reformation had already been burned by order of the Diet of Worms. To elude the vigilance of the authorities he established a press of his own, which, however, was destroyed by a mob, together with his house. He was compelled to flee to Switzerland, whence he was in time likewise expelled. His most celebrated satirical work is entitled Von dem grossen Lutherischen Narren (Strasburg, 1522; new edition by Henry Kurtz, Zurich, 1848), which was answered by Murnarus Leriethus vulgo dictus Halbnarr odes Gansprediger. The latter part of his personal history is not known, although he is supposed to have lived in misery, and to have died at Heidelberg about 1536. See Waldau, Nachricht. v. Thom. Murner Leben and Schriften; Panzer, Annales d. deutsch. Litt.; Ruchat, Histoire de la Reform. de la Suisse; Yung, Gesch. d. Refoarm. i. Strasburg, page 238 sq.; Hagen, Deutschland's liter. uand relig. Verhaltnisse im Reformatiozs-zeitalter, 2:61, 183 sq.; Hagenbach, Kirchengesch. volume 3; For. Qu. 20:74.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Murner, Thomas'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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