PISTORIUS, JOHANNES BECKER: The name of two persons, father and son, who were influential, though widely divergent, figures in the religious controversies of the sixteenth century.
1. Johannes Pistorius the Elder: Controversies with Roman Catholics. First Protestant pastor at Nidda, Hesse; b. in the latter part of the fifteenth century; d. 1583. In company with Butzer, he appears to have attended the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, and in 1541 he became superintendent of the diocese of Alsfeld. Landgrave Philip accorded him the utmost confidence. In 1540 he was one of the Hessian delegates to the convention at Hagenau, and soon afterward he was delegated to attend the colloquy at Worms, in 1540-41. He accompanied the landgrave to the Diet of Regensburg, where the emperor appointed him to speak on the Protestant side, along with Melanchthon and Butzer. He stood loyal to Melanchthon, who esteemed him highly. In 1543, at the request of Butzer, the landgrave sent him to Cologne, to support attempts of the elector to introduce the Reformation there. He preached to large throngs, and to Melanchthon's complete satisfaction. In 1545-46, again as a colleague of Butzer, he took part in the religious conference at Regensburg. When it was purposed to introduce the Interim (q.v.) in Hesse, he headed a brave, though moderate, resistance, even being ready to resign his office. After the reaction brought about by the Elector Maurice, the landgrave, in 1557, despatched Pistorius to the princely diet at Frankfort; and not long afterward he was one of the speakers at the great religious conference in Worms (q.v.).
Activity in Inter-Protestant Controversy. From this time on, Pistorius was busied more by the controversies raging among the Protestants than by the struggle against the Roman Catholic Church. He then deeply influenced the Hessian position, and his constant aim was either to preserve or to restore peace. Together with his colleagues at the Synod of Ziegenhain, in 1558, he gladly accepted the Frankfort Recess (q.v.). Owing to illness, he was unable to accompany the landgrave to the princes' conference at Naumburg in 1561, although he declared, in a formal expression of opinion, that the revised Augsburg Confession contained no doctrinal deviation from the original. It was most probably Pistorius who composed the important Hessian opinion, dated Oct. 19, 1566, regarding the "final answer" of the Württemberg theologians to the Heidelberg divines (Tübingen, 1566). This document takes a very decided stand against the Heidelberg party with their Calvinistic teaching regarding the Lord's Supper, and it recognizes the doctrine of Ubiquity (q.v.). At the momentous eighth general synod of' 1576, when the Torgau Book (see FORMULA OF CONCORD) was under advisement, Pistorius approved its basal creed, its various doctrinal statements and antitheses, its teaching concerning the Lord's Supper, and, pending deeper investigation, its Christology. At the same time, he shared the scruples urged by the majority against emphasizing the Invariata, the "damnation" of the Calvinists, and the subtlety of the doctrine of ubiquity; and he was, therefore, the first to sign the treatise explanatory of these points. At the general assembly in Treysa (Nov., 1577), Pistorius and the majority voted to reject the Book of Bergen (see FORMULA OF CONCORD). It is thus evident that Pistorius undervalued the significance and range of the dogmatic questions of the period. He intensely disliked doctrinal polemics, and always treated dogmatic questions from a practical point of view. Administratively he evinced a very influential activity in organization and polity, as well as in public worship, discipline and education, during his entire term of office. At his death he left an unfinished work on the diets and colloquies that he had attended from 1540 to 1557.
2. Johannes Pistorius the Younger: Early Life and Conversion of Margrave Jacob. Roman Catholic convert and apologist; b. at Nidda (19 m. s.e. of Giessen), Hesse, Feb. 4, 1546; d. at Freiburg Sept., 1608. He studied first theology and then medicine, and in 1568 published at Frankfort the peculiar cabalistic treatise: De vera curand pestis ratione, which he followed by his Artis cabalistic scriptores (Basel, 1587). During the life-time of Charles II. (d. 1577), sole regent of the margravate of Baden-Durlach, Pistorius became court physician, though he was continually taking part in theological affairs. Meanwhile he had gone over from Lutheranism to Calvinism; and shortly afterward, in 1588, became a convert to the Roman Catholic Church. He now wrote a number of open letters which opened a controversy on the nature of the Church, an issue that he henceforth deemed the most important point under discussion. At the same time he made earnest, though unsuccessful, efforts to convert Margrave Ernest Frederick. With the Margrave Jacob, at Hochberg Castle, he had better fortune. This chivalrous, learned, and traveled prince had frequently received foreign Protestants, although in 1585-86, when in the Spanish military service, he had fought against the adherents of the new teachings in the archdiocese of Cologne. He was very accessible, moreover, to Roman Catholic court influences, and now became a convert to the ancient Church. To justify this step he arranged a religious conference at Baden, the residence of his cousin, Margrave Eduard Fortunatus, who had himself become a Roman Catholic in 1584. Margrave Jacob appeared with his councilor, Pistorius, his chaplain, Johann Zehender, the Jesuit Theodor Busus, and others. Duke Christopher of Württemberg, who had been invited, did not attend in person, but sent certain councilors and theologians, Jakob Andreä, Jakob Heerbrand, and Gerlach. The debate (Nov. 18-19) occupied four sessions, though it did not turn on ubiquity, as the margrave had purposed, but on the visible and invisible Church, as Pistorius had arranged. The conference proved fruitless, however, and was soon broken off. Andreä and Pistorius parted in enmity, and their oral dispute was prolonged in writing. Margrave Jacob, dissatisfied with the Baden conference, and continually influenced by the duke of Bavaria, ordered a second religious colloquy, this time at his Emmendingen residence. The Roman Catholic debaters were the chaplain Zehender and the rector Georg Hänlin of Freiburg. The margrave had wished for the debate to turn on the doctrine of justification; and at his command Pistorius had prepared 300 theses on that subject, but again succeeded in making the theory of the Church the topic of argument. After seven sessions (June 3-7, 1590); the margrave finally authorized the pronouncement that "Luther's church was a new church, and therefore a false church." Without further delay, the margrave solemnly became a member of the Roman Catholic Church in the monastery of Thennenbach (July 15), Busus granting him absolution. Great joy reigned in Rome, and Pope Sixtus V. appointed a feast of thanksgiving. Before it could be held, however, Margrave Jacob, after a brief illness, had died (Aug. 7, 1590). Immediately after his death, Ernest Frederick appeared at Emmendingen and forbade any change in religious conditions, but when this prince was later about to force Calvinism upon his domain, he, too, died a sudden death (1604). The entire margravate now devolved on George Frederick, whom neither Pistorius nor Ernest Frederick had been able to win from Lutheranism.
Clerical Career and Writings. Pistorius outlived these events, but not in Baden. He took orders, became vicar general to the bishop of Constance, and resided for the most part in Freiburg, devoting himself zealously to writing polemics. Soon after his removal from Baden, he published Wahrhafte Beschreibung, was sich bei Markgraf Jakobs letzter Krankheit und Ableben verlauffen (1590) and Orationes de vita et marte Jacobi (1591).
Of great note among his many and widely published controversial writings was his Anatomia Lutheri (2 parts, Cologne, 1595-98), in which he sought to prove from Luther's writings that the Reformer was possessed of the seven evil spirits (lust, blasphemy, etc.), and that he was an utter abomination. The constructive counterpart to this work was his Wegweiser für all verführten Christen, das ist, ein wahrhaftiger Bericht von vierzehn durch die unrechtgläubigen in Streit gezogenen Artikeln, daraus jedermann der römischen Kirche Wahrheit erkennen kann (Münster, 1599). Pistorius rendered lasting service through his works on history and genealogy, particularly by his edition of the Scriptores rerum Germanicarum (3 vols., Frankfort, 1583-1607) and by his Polonic histori corpus (3 vols., Basel, 1582). His zeal was recognized by his church, for he was appointed imperial and Bavarian councilor, apostolic prothonotary, provost of the cathedral at Breslau, and domestic prelate to the abbot of Fulda. CARL MIRBT.