Reuchlin, Johann(yō`hän roikh`lən), 1455–1522, German humanist and lawyer, a scholar of Greek and Hebrew, b. Baden. He taught jurisprudence at Tübingen. In 1492 he began the study of Hebrew, and his Rudimenta Hebraica (1506) was the first Hebrew grammar written by a Christian. His reputation as a scholar had already been established by the translations from the Greek that he made at Heidelberg. When Johann Pfefferkorn, a Jew who had converted to Christianity, advocated destruction of all Hebrew books, Emperor Maximilian requested Reuchlin's opinion in the matter. Reuchlin suggested that only those Hebrew books which calumniated Christianity should be suppressed and that the Jews should be required to furnish books for the universities, with two chairs of Hebrew learning to be set up in every university in Germany. His decision brought forth a storm of opposition from bigots and obscurantists, which Reuchlin met by his Augenspiegel [mirror of the eye] (1511). In this work he attacked Pfefferkorn and drew a distinction between classical works in Hebrew and anti-Christian polemics. A violent controversy developed between the humanists supporting Reuchlin and the clericals and powers of the Inquisition supporting Pfefferkorn. From the struggle emerged the famous defense of Reuchlin, Episculae obscurorum virorum [letters of obscure men] by Crotus Rubianus and Ulrich von HuttenHutten, Ulrich von
, 1488–1523, German humanist and poet, partisan of the Reformation, an outstanding figure in German political history. Hutten's career as poet was launched by his participation in the famous Episculae obscurorum virorum
..... Click the link for more information. . Reuchlin, himself, remained a Roman Catholic. In 1521 the Curia suppressed his writings against Pfefferkorn.
Born Feb. 22, 1455, in Pforzheim; died June 30, 1522, in Bad Liebenzell. German humanist.
Reuchlin was an adviser to the Duke of Württemberg. He visited Italy several times and was close to the leaders of what became known as the Platonic Academy (Pico della Mirandola and others). During the last years of his life, he was a professor at the universities of Ingolstadt and Tübingen. Reuchlin was considered to be Germany’s greatest expert in ancient languages—Latin and especially Hebrew and ancient Greek.
In 1509, Reuchlin spoke out against the reactionary Catholic theologians of the University of Cologne, who were demanding the destruction of Hebrew religious books, which he regarded as a source for the study of Christianity. The Dominicans of the university brought about the trial of Reuchlin on a charge of heresy. The struggle that lasted for several years around the “case of the Hebrew books” has become known in history as the Reuchlin controversy. A landmark in the struggle of the humanists in defense of Reuchlin was the Letters of Obscure Men —one of the most brilliant satirical pamphlets of 16th-century pre-Reformation Germany. Reuchlin himself did not agree with the Reformation. He was the author of the satirical comedies Henno and Sergius.