Matthias Illyricus Flacius

1520-1575. German Lutheran theologian. Born in the Adriatic peninsula of Istria, his Croatian name was Vlacic (Latinized as Flacius) and Illyricus was added later to refer to his coastal homeland. An orphan, he worked his way through school and studied with the humanist Baptista Egnatius, a friend of Erasmus, in Venice (1536-39). Through the influence of his uncle he was dissuaded from becoming a monk and persuaded to attend the university. Consequently he studied at the universities of Basle, Tübingen, and Wittenberg. At the latter school he underwent a deep spiritual crisis which ended only when he was converted to evangelical doctrine through contact with Luther. He became a professor of Hebrew (1544) and lectured on Aristotle and the Bible. He subsequently differed with Melanchthon over the compromise Augsburg Interim (1548) and then wandered from Jena to Regensburg, Antwerp, Strasbourg, and finally to Frankfurt, where he died. He was almost Manichaean in his view of sin and evil in man. His fame rests upon his Clavis or key to the Scriptures, a monument in the history of hermeneutics, and the Magdeburg Centuries, an interpretation of church history which in its extremely antipapal emphasis had a strong effect on later Protestant thought.