Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/629

This page needs to be proofread.




1624, he was called to Rome where he fulfilled the duties of theologian and censor of books till his death. From an early age Bidermann distinguished himself in many branches of learning. Such was his reputa- tion for scholarship, that the famous Matthew Rader, a professor of Dillingen, celebrated his fame in a Latin poem, in which he spoke of him as another Aquinas, Aristotle, Cicero, and Maro. Besides numerous vol- umes of dramas, epigrams, biographical sketches, etc., Bidermann WTote many books on philosophy and theology. Amongst the best-kno\^Ti of these are: "Theses Theologies;" (1620), "Sponsalia" (1621); "Poenitentiae Sacraraentum" (1621); "Matrimonii Impedimenta" (1621); "Censurse" (1622); "Irregu- laritas" (1622); "Suffragia" (1623); "Jesu Christi Status Triplex, Mortalis, Iramortalis, Sacramentalis" (1623); "Conscientia" (1624); "Prolusiones Theologi- cae quibus Pontificis Rom. dignitas adversus hfre- sim propugnata est" (1624); " Eleemosj-na " (1625); "Gratia" (1625); "Agnosticon libri tres pro mira- culis" (1626).

SoMMERVOGEL, Bibl. de la c. de J., I, 1443; Behn.ird in Diet, de Iheol. cath., XII, 813; Hdhter, Namendator, I, 303. R. H. TiERNEY.

Biel, Gabriel, called "the last of the Scholastics", b. at Speyer, Germany, c. 1425; d. at Tubingen, 1495. His studies were pursued at Heidelberg and Erfurt. While still a young man, he was noted as a preacher in the cathedral of Mainz, of which he was vicar. Later he became superior of the "Clerics of the Common Life" at Biitzbach, and in 1479 was appointed provost of the church in I'rach. At this period he co-operated with Count Eberhard of Wiir- temberg in founding the University of Tubingen. Appointed in 14S4 the first professor of theology in the new institution, he continued the most celebrated member of its faculty until his death. Though he was almost sixty years of age when he began to teach, Biel's work, both as professor and as writer, reflected the highest honour on the young university. His first publication, on the Canon of the Mass, is of permanent interest and value. His second and most important work is a commentary on the " Sentences" of Peter Lombard. In this he calls Occam his master, but the last three books show him more Scotist than Nominalist. Scheeben describes him as "one of the best of the Nominalists, clear, exact, and more positive as well as more loyal to the Church than any of the others" (Dogmatik, no. 1073). The historian Janssen declares that he was one of the few Nominalists who erected a theological system without incurring the charge of unorthodoxy. (Cf . Geschichte des deutschen Volkes, I, 127, 15th ed.) He was neither narrow nor excessively speculative. Though a Nominalist, he was tolerant of Realism, which also flourished at Tubingen under the leadership of Konrad Summenhart. A Scholastic, he was, to quote Janssen, "free from empty speculations and ingenious intellectual juggling, being concerned with questions and needs of actual life" (ibidem), was interested in the social movements of his time, and maintained friendly relations with the Human- ists. One of the latter, Heinrich Bebel, gave him the title of "monarch among theologians". His theological writings were repeatedly brought into the discussions of the Council of Trent.

Living as he did in a transition period, Biel ex- hibits characteristics of two intellectual eras. Ac- cording to some, he was a Scholastic who expounded Aristotle rather than the Scriptures; according to others, he defended freer theological teaching, and opposed the ancient constitution of the Church and the authority of the pope. As a matter of fact, he acknowledged the primacy and supreme power of the Roman Pontiff, but, in common with many other theologians of his time, maintained the superi- ority of general councils, at least to the extent that

they could compel the pope's resignation. And he displayed no more theological freedom than has been claimed and exercised by some of the strictest theo- logians. Among the opinions defended by Biel concerning matters controverted in his day, the following are worthy of mention : (a) That all eccle- siastical jurisdiction, even that of bishops, is derived either immediately or mediately from the pope. In this connexion it is to be noted that his defence of the episcopal claims of Diether von Ysenburg won him the thanks of Pius II. (b) That the power of absolving is inherent in sacerdotal orders, and that only the matter, i. e. the persons to be absolved, can be conceded or withheld by the ordinary, (c) That the minister of baptism need have no more specific intention than that of doing what the faith- ful, that is, the Church, intends, (d) That the State may not compel Jev.-s, or heathens, or their children to receive baptism, (e) And that the Contractus Triniis is morally lawful. AU of these opinions have since become the prevailing theological doctrine.

The subject on which Biel held the most progres- sive views is political economy. Roscher, who with SchmoUer introduced him to modern students of economics, declares that Bid's grasp of economics enabled him not only to understand the work of his predecessors, but to advance beyond them. (Cf. Geschichte der Nationalolconomik in Deutschland, 21 sqq.) According to Biel, the just price of a com- modity is determined chiefly by human needs, by its scarcity, and by the difficulty of producing it. His enumeration includes all the factors that govern market price, and is more complete and reasonable than any made by his predecessors. (Cf. Garnier, L'id^e du juste prix, 77.) The same author main- tains that concerning the occupation of the merchant or trader, Biel is more advanced than St. Thomas, since he attaches no stigma to it, but holds it to be good in itself, and the merchant entitled to remunera- tion because of his labour, risks, and expenses. Biel's discussion of these subjects is contained in book IV of his commentary on the "Sentences". He wrote a special work on currency, ein wahrhaft goldenes Buch, in which he stigmatizes the debasing of coinage by princes as dishonest exploitation of the people. In the same work he severely condemns those rulers who curtailed the popular rights of for- est, meadow, and water, and who imposed arbitrary burdens of taxation, as well as the rich sportsmen who encroached upon the lands of the peasantry. His works are: "Sacri canonis Misss expositio resolutissima literalis et mystica" (Brixen, 1576); an abridgment of this work, entitled "Epitome expositionis canonis Missse" (Antwerp, 1565); "Ser- mones" (Brixen, 1583), on the Sundays and festivals of the Christian year, with a disquisition on the plague and a defence of the authority of the pope; "Collectorium sive epitome in magistri sententiarum libros IV" (Brixen, 1574); "Tractatus de potestate et utilitate monetarum".

Moser. Vitv proftssorum Tubingen&ium ord, theolog. dec. 1 CTiibingen, 1718); Wi.vkelhann, Beschreibung von Hesseu und UiTsfM (Bremen, 1711); Linsenmann, Gabriel Biel. n\ Tkcolopische Ouartalschrift (Tubingen. 1865), passim; Plitt, GabrUl Biel ah Prediger (Erlangen, 1879); Garnier, De I'idce du jusle prir (Parw, 1900), 74-83; Linsenmann in Kirchenlei., s. v.; Hurter, Nomendator; Schwane, Dogmenpeschichte (Freiburg. 1882), III, passim; Turner, Hist, of Philosophy (Boston, 1903) 409 ; Ashi-ev, English Economic History (New York, 1893), II, 382, 441-46.

John A. Ry.^n.

Biella, Diocese of. — The city of Biella, the see of the diocese of that name, is an important industrial centre (anciently called Bugella) of Piedmont, Italy, in the province of Novara. The diocese contains about 200,000 inhabitants, and is a sulfragan of the Archdiocese of Vercelli. Until 1772 Biella had no bishop, but was under the juris- diction of the Archdiocese of Vercelli. In that year