Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Johann Heynlin of Stein
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Johann Heynlin of Stein
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A theologian, born about 1425; died at Basle, 12 March, 1496. He was apparently of Swabian origin. On the completion of his academic studies in Germany, presumably at Leipzig and Freiburg, he proceeded to Paris to pursue the study of philosophy and theology. Here he came in contact with the foremost representatives of Realism, who, recognizing his abilities and probable future influence, exerted their powers to the utmost to mould his mind after their own and thus make him like themselves a bitter opponent of Nominalism. Their efforts were successful. In 1464 he went to the University of Basle and applied for admission to the professorial faculty of arts. The old controversy regarding the nature of Universals had not yet subsided and in the university of Basle Nominalism held sway. Hence in view of this and the maintenance of peace within the institution, the admission of Heynlin to the faculty was not accomplished without a most vigorous opposition. Once a member of the faculty he hoped to rid it of all Nominalistic tendencies nor was he disappointed in his expectation. In 1465 he became dean of the faculty of arts and in this capacity he revised the university statutes and thus brought about a firmly established curriculum of studies. In 1466 he returned to Paris, obtained the doctorate in theology, was in 1469 elected rector of the university and became professor of theology at the Sorbonne. His most noteworthy achievement was the establishment, in connexion with Fichet, of the first printing-press in Paris in 1470; Ulrich Gering and his two associates were put in charge of it and Heynlin gave valuable pecuniary aid to their undertakings, especially for the printing of the works of the Fathers. In 1478 he was called to teach theology in the newly founded University of Tübingen, where his learning, eloquence and reputation secured for him the same year the rectorship. The opposition, however, he met from the Nominalists Gabriel Biel, Paul Scriptoris, and others, rendered his service here of short duration. He severed his connexion with the university, proceeded to Baden-Baden and thence to Berne, where he engaged in preaching. Dissatisfied with Berne he returned to Basle, and tired of wandering, he entered in 1487 the Carthusian Monastery of St. Margarethenthal to spend his declining years in prayer and literary work. As a scholar and academic disputant Heynlin manifested an erudition and intellectual acumen of no mean order. Naturally of a peaceful disposition he was often forced by circumstances to play an important part in the theological controversies of his time. At his suggestion Johann Amerbach, the early printer of Basle, undertook the editing of the works of the ancient philosophical writers. Of his theological works the only important one thus far issued is the "Resolutorium dubiorum circa missarum celebrationem".
HURTER, Nomenclator, s. v.; PRANTL, Allg. deutsche Biogr., XII, 379; Biographie universelle, XXXIII, 289.