Servetus, Michael

Servetus, Michael
( 151 1-1553 )
   Spanish physician and theologian who was executed for his beliefs
   John Calvin's consent to the persecution and execution of Michael Servetus for advocating heretical opinions has emerged as the major blot on his otherwise distinguished career. Servetus, a brilliant Spanish intellectual and physician, was born at vil-lanueva de Sijena, Spain, and later studied law at Toulouse in France. He appears to have developed an interest in theology as a student; as early as 1530 he expressed his disbelief in the Trinity to Protestant reformer Johann Oecolampadius and publicized it in his book Concerning the Errors of the Trinity (1531). Facing disapproval, he moved to Lyon and then to Paris.
   Servetus had begun his theological reflections by noting that Muslims and Jews considered the Trinity as an attack on the unity of God. He concluded that God was one, that Christ was not divine, and that the Holy Spirit was the name of God's power. He also concluded that the church should be reorganized as a community of those who believe, that infant baptism should be replaced with believer's baptism, and that in the Eucharist believers could partake of divinity and participate in God. Such beliefs were heretical to Catholics and most Protestants, including Calvin.
   While in Paris, Servetus studied medicine, and appears to have discovered the circulation of the blood long before its public discovery by William Harvey in the next century. He left Paris in 1538, following conflicts over his lecturing on astrology.
   Servetus moved back to Lyon and then in 1544 was offered a position as the personal physician to the archbishop of vienna. During these years, he operated under pseudonyms, though he kept up a confidential correspondence with Calvin. As early as 1546, he sent Calvin the manuscript of his book Restitution of Christianity, only published in 1553. it was the discovery of his authorship of this later book that led to his arrest in vienna. However, he escaped and moved toward Italy. On his way, he stopped in Geneva, where he was recognized and arrested.
   Servetus was subjected to a lengthy trial in which all his heretical opinions were aired. The court noted that his opinions not only attacked Christian orthodoxy, but also provided support for Muslims and Jews. He was condemned and burned at the stake in Geneva on October 27, 1553. Though not directly involved in the proceeding, Calvin is held responsible for Servetus's death, considering his unchallenged power at that time in Geneva.
   Servetus did not raise up a community of believers nor participate in one, but he has in more recent years been seen as a precursor to the Unitarian beliefs of Socianism.
   Further reading:
   ■ Roland H. Bainton, Hunted Heretics (Boston, Beacon Press, 1953)
   ■ Michael Servetus, Two Treatises on the Trinity, ed. by Earl Morse Wilbur (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1932)
   ■ Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism: Socini-anism and Its Antecedents (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1945)
   ■ George H. Williams, The Radical Reformation (Kirksville, Mo.: Sixteenth Century Journal, 1992).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Servetus, Michael — (1511–53)    Theologian.    Servetus was born in Tudela, Navarre, and was educated at Saragossa and Toulouse. Subsequently he travelled to Basle and Strasbourg where he met Martin bucer. He came to believe that the doctrine of the Trinity should… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Servetus, Michael — orig. Miguel Servet born 1511?, Villanueva or Tudela, Spain died Oct. 27, 1553, Champel, Switz. Spanish physician and theologian. His views alienated both Roman Catholics and Protestants, beginning with the publication of his first book, De… …   Universalium

  • Servetus,Michael — Ser·ve·tus (sər vēʹtəs), Michael. Originally Miguel Serveto. 1511 1553. Spanish born theologian and physician who described the circulation of blood. His denial of the doctrine of the Trinity led to his execution for heresy. * * * …   Universalium

  • SERVETUS, MICHAEL —    physician, born at Tudela, in Navarre; had a leaning to theology, and passing into Germany associated with the Reformers; adopted Socinianism, and came under ban of the orthodox, and was burnt alive at Geneva, after a trial of two months,… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • SERVETUS, Michael (Miguel) (1511-1553) — Michael Servetus was a Spanish physician who questioned the Trinity and believed that God is unitary. In Geneva while in flight from persecution in Italy, Servetus was captured and, on orders of John Calvin,* burned at the stake for heresy.… …   Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary

  • Michael Servet — Michael Servetus (eigentlich Miguel Serveto y Reves; * 1511 in Villanueva de Sigena (Huesca); † 27. Oktober 1553 in Genf) war ein spanischer Arzt, Gelehrter, Humanist, Theologe, Freidenker und Antitrinitarier. Er wird häufig auch als Servet… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Servetus — Michael Servetus (eigentlich Miguel Serveto y Reves; * 1511 in Villanueva de Sigena (Huesca); † 27. Oktober 1553 in Genf) war ein spanischer Arzt, Gelehrter, Humanist, Theologe, Freidenker und Antitrinitarier. Er wird häufig auch als Servet… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Michael Servetus — Not to be confused with Servatius (disambiguation). Michael Servetus Era Renaissance Born 29 September 1511(1511 09 29) …   Wikipedia

  • Michael — /muy keuhl/, n. 1. a militant archangel. Dan. 10:13. 2. Rumanian, Mihai /mee huy /. born 1921, king of Rumania 1927 30, 1940 47 (son of Carol II). 3. (italics) a narrative poem (1800) by Wordsworth. 4. a male given name. * * * I In the Bible and… …   Universalium

  • Michael Servetus — Michael Servet: Stich aus den 17. Jahrhundert Michael Servetus auch Michel Servet (eigentlich Miguel Serveto y Reves; * 1511 in Villanueva de Sigena (Huesca) in Aragón; † 27. Oktober 1553 in Genf; hingerichtet) war ein spanischer Arzt, Gelehrter …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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