AEPINUS, JOHANNES (Johann Hoeck): The first Lutheran superintendent of Hamburg; b. at
Ziesar or Ziegesar (29 m. e.n.e. of Magdeburg), in the march of Brandenburg,
1499; d. in Hamburg May 13, 1553. He was a diligent student as a boy, and
was under Bugenhagen's instruction, probably while the latter was rector
of the monastery of Belbuck. He took his bachelor's degree at Wittenberg
in 1520; here he became the friend of Luther and Melanchthon. Then he had
a school in Brandenburg, but was persecuted and imprisoned for his reforming
activity, and had to leave home. Partly on account of the malice of his
enemies, he adopted the modified form of the Greek word aipeinos ("lofty
"), by which he is generally known, and which he claimed was a translation
of his real name (Hoeck = hoch). He spent some time in Pomerania,
in close relations with the leaders of the Reformation there. From about
1524 to 1528 he was in Stralsund, in charge of a school (probably private).
The local authorities asked him to draw up an order of ecclesiastical discipline
(Kirchenordnung), which went into effect Nov. 5, 1525. In Oct.,
1529, he succeeded Johann Boldewan as pastor of St. Peter's in Hamburg.
He carried on vigorously the work of his teacher and friend, Bugenhagen,
and was chiefly instrumental in introducing his order of discipline in
Hamburg. His contest with the cathedral chapter, which still adhered to
the old faith, gave occasion to the earliest of his extant writings, Pinacidion
de Romanae ecclesiae imposturis (1530). On May 18, 1532 he was appointed
to the highest office in the Lutheran Church of Hamburg, that of superintendent
according to Bugenhagen's order of discipline. In 1534 he visited England
at the request of Henry VIII., to advise him as to his divorce and as to
the carrying forward of the Reformation there. He returned to Hamburg in
the following January, and subsequently made numerous journeys as a representative
of the city in important affairs. He took part in all the church movements
of the time, and frequently had the deciding voice in disputed matters.
Melanchthon considered his work on the interim (1548) the best that had
been written, though it did not agree with his own views.
In all his writings Aepinus displays great theological learning and equal
gentleness of temper. He gave weekly theological lectures, usually in Latin,
which were attended by the preachers and other learned men, and spent much
time on the Psalms, taking up especially the questions which at the moment
were agitating men's minds. He is best known by the controversy which arose
over his teaching as to the descent of Christ into Hades. In 1542, finding
that the article of the creed on this subject was frequently explained
as meaning no more than the going down into the grave, in his lecture on
the sixteenth psalm, he put forward the view, already given in Luther's
explanation of the Psalms, that Christ had really gone down into hell,
to deliver men from its power. Garcaeus, his successor at St. Peter's,
called him to account for this teaching, but left Hamburg in the following
year and did not return until 1546. Meantime Aepinus's commentary on Ps.
xvi. had been published by his assistant Johann Freder, so that his view
was widely known.
The controversy became a public and a bitter one after Garcaeus's return,
and both sides sought to gain support from Wittenberg. Melanchthon could
only say that there was no agreement among the doctors on this point, and
counsel peace. Aepinus's opponents in Hamburg were so turbulent that their
leaders were deprived of their offices and banished from the city in 1551.
The principal monument of Aepinus's activity in Hamburg is his ordinances
for the church there, which he drew up in 1539 at the request of the council.
It was a necessary amplification of that of Bugenhagen, and seems to have
remained in force until 1603.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: N. Staphorst, Hamburgische Kirchengeschichte,
II. i., Hamburg, 1729; A. Greve, Memoria J. Aepini instaurata ,
ib. 1736; N. Wilkens, Hamburgischer Ehrentempel, pp. 248-280, ib.
1770; F. H. R. Frank, Theologie der Konkordienformel, 4 vols., Erlangen,
1858-65; Schaff, Creeds, i. 296-298.