Eck, Johann Maier von (yōˈhän mĪˈər fən ĕk) [key], 1486–1543, German Roman Catholic theologian. He was of peasant stock, the name von Eck being taken from his birthplace in Swabia. He was a brilliant student and became a professor at Freiburg in his youth. He was renowned in Germany for his dialectic skill in public disputation and for his deep knowledge of church history and canon law. He had been suspected of unsound theology because of some of his humanistic ideas, but he had no hesitation in condemning (1518) the new theses of Martin Luther, with whom he held a public discussion at Leipzig in 1519. Eager for the condemnation of the heresy he saw in Lutheranism, he went to Rome and returned with the papal bull condemning Luther (1520). From that time he was a leader in the struggle against the reforming party in Germany. He was one of the leading theologians at the Diet of Augsburg (1530). He also attacked the Swiss reforms of Zwingli. Eck is known as the first theologian who forced Luther into a position of definite, open opposition to the teachings and practice of the Roman Catholic Church.
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