BIEL, bîl, GABRIEL: One of the most remarkable theologians of the late Middle Ages; b. at Speyer; d. at Tübingen 1495: He studied at Heidelberg, became preacher at St. Martin's Church at Mainz, provost of Urach in Württemberg, and after 1484 professor of theology and philosophy in the newly founded University of Tübingen. In his old age he joined the Brethren of the Common Life (see COMMON LIFE, BRETHREN OF THE). In theology Biel followed the nominalism of Occam. (q.v.), whose system he reproduced in his Epitome et collectorium, ex Occamo super quattuor libros sententiarum (Tübingen, 1495). In anthropology and soteriology he was a Semi-Pelagian, teaching that “merit depends on man's free will and God's grace” (sermo xiv, 7); the sacraments operate not only ex opere operantis, but also ex opere operato (Sent., IV, i, 3). The Church, therefore, was for him a mechanically operating sacramental institution; in its priests he glorifies a "mighty dignity." In questions affecting the constitution of the Church, Biel took the position assumed by the councils of Constance and Basel. As a preacher he surpassed his predecessors in the practicality of his views; his knowledge of political economy also deserves recognition. Besides the work already noticed, he wrote Lectura super canonem missæ (Reutlingen, 1488); Expositio canonis missæ, (Tübingen, 1499); Sermones (1499); and other works.
Bibliography: F. X. Linsenmann, Gabriel Biel der letzte Scholastiker und der Nominalismus, in Tübinger theologische Quartalschrift, 1865, pp. 449 sqq.; idem, in KL, ii, 804-808; A. Ritschl, Die christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung, i, 102 sqq., Bonn, 1889; H. Plitt, Gabriel Biel als Prediger, Erlangen, 1879; Schultz, Der sittliche Begriff des Verdienetes, in TSK, 1894, pp. 304 sqq.