Johann Eck

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Dr. Johann Maier von Eck (November 13, 1486 – February 13, 1543) was a German theologian and defender of Catholicism during the Protestant Reformation. It was Eck who argued that the beliefs of Martin Luther and Jan Hus were similar.



Johann Eck was born Johann Maier at Eck (later Egg, near Memmingen, c. 70 km miles south of Augsburg) in Swabia, and derived his additional surname from his birthplace, which he himself, after 1505, always modified into Eckius or Eccius, i.e. "of Eck." His father, Michael Maier, was a peasant and bailiff, or Amtmann, of the village. The boy's education was undertaken by his uncle, Martin Maier, parish priest at Rottenburg on the river Neckar.

At the age of twelve he entered the University of Heidelberg, which he left in the following year for Tübingen. After taking his master's degree in 1501, he began the study of theology under Johann Jakob Lempp, and studied the elements of Hebrew and political economy with Konrad Summenhart. He left Tübingen in 1501 on account of the plague and after a year at Cologne finally settled at Freiburg University, at first as a student of theology and law and later as a successful teacher where he was mentor to the prominent Anabaptist leader of Waldshut and Nikolsburg, Balthasar Hubmaier, and later retaining this relationship during their move to the University of Ingolstadt. In 1508 he entered the priesthood in Strasbourg and two years later obtained his doctorate in theology.

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