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Johann Dietenberger

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Theologian, b. about 1475 at Frankfort-on-the-Main, d. 4 Sept., 1537, at Mainz. He was educated in his native city, joined the Dominican Order, and soon distinguished himself by his attainments, both religious and intellectual. On 3 June, 1511, he registered at Cologne as a theological student; three years later, 23 September, 1514, he was admitted to the licentiate, and the next year, after some time spent at Heidelberg and Mainz, received the doctor's degree. Towards the end of 1517 Dietenberger was appointed Regens studiorum and interpreter of St. Thomas at Trier, where he opened his lectures 27 January, 1518. In the meantime he had been elected (1516) prior of his convent at Frankfort, and he retained this office until 1526, when he became prior at Coblenz. In 1530 Dietenberger attended the Diet of Augshurg and was chosen a member of the committee of twenty Catholic theologians selected at the meeting of 27 June and presided over by Eck, to draw up a refutation of the Protestant Confession. About the same time he received the appointment of general inquisitor for the Dioceses of Mainz and Cologne. His last years, from 1532, were devoted to teaching theology and exegesis in the Academy of Mainz.

Foremost among Dietenberger's works stands his catechism : "Evangelischer Bericht und Christliche Unterweisung der furnehmlichsten Stuck des waren heyligen Christlichen Glaubens", published first at Mainz in 1537 and often re-edited, lastly by Moufang (Die Mainzer Katechismen). Next should be mentioned Dietenberger's German Bible: "Biblia beider Allt und Newen Testamenten, new verdeutscht", published at Mainz in 1534. This work, repeatedly corrected, especially by Caspar Ulenberg (Cologne, 1630) and the Jesuit theologians of Mainz (1661), was destined to become for the German people "Die Katholische Bibel", a title bespeaking its excellence. Dietenberger has been frequently charged with having purloined Luther's version. True, he used freely the New Testament of Emser (1527), of whom Luther was wont to say that "he had ploughed with his heifers"; he used likewise other translations compiled in pre-Reformation times, and so did Luther. These facts may account for many similarities; moreover, he was well acquainted with the versions of Luther and of Leo of Juda, and confessedly profited by them to improve his own. Besides these two important works, Dietenberger composed fifteen polemical tracts, treating various subjects then much mooted: Mass, confession, vows, faith, etc.

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