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NICOLAUS OF LYRA (c. 1265–1349)

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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 663 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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NICOLAUS OF LYRA (c. 1265–1349), French commentator, was born in Lire, now Vieille-Lyre, in the department of Eure, Normandy. He entered the Franciscan order at Verneuil about 1300, and studied at Paris, where, becoming a doctor some time before 1309, he taught for many years. From 1319 he was provincial of his order in France, and was present in that capacity at the general chapter at Perouse (1321). In 1325 he was provincial of Burgundy, and as executor of the estate of Jeanne of Burgundy, widow of King Philip VI., he founded the college of Burgundy at Paris, where he died in the autumn of 1349, being buried in the chapter hall of the convent of the Cordeliers. Among the authentic works of Nicolaus of Lyra are: (I) two commentaries on the whole Bible, one (Postilla litteralis, 1322–1331) following the literal sense, the other (Postilla mystica seu moralis, 1339) following the mystic sense. There are numerous editions (Rome, 1471–1472; Douai, 1617; Antwerp, 1634). (2) Tractatus de differentia nostrae translationis (i.e. Vulgate) ab Hebraica veritate, 1333. (3) Two treatises against the Jews. (4) A theological treatise on the Beatific Vision, directed against pope John XXII. (1334), unpublished. (5) Contemplatio de vita S. Francisci, a book of devotions. Nicolaus was above all a commentator. His exegesis, which was dominated by his polemics against the Jews, is characterized by a fidelity to the literal sense, the comparison with the Hebrew text, the direct use of Jewish commentators, a very independent attitude toward% traditional interpretations, and a remarkable historical and critical sense. In all this he resembled Roger Bacon. His works, especially the Postilla litteralis, were very popular in the 14th and 15th centuries, but produced few imitators. In addition to the notices in Wadding, du Moustier, Sbaraglia and Fabricius, see C. Siegfried, in Archiv. f. wissenschaftliche Erforschung des A.T., vols. i., ii.; A. Merx, Die Prophetie des Joel and ihre Ausleger (1879, pp. 305-366); M. Fischer in Jahrbiicher f. protestantische Theologie, xv.; F. Maschkowski, in Zeitschrift f. alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, xv.; Neumann in Revue des etudes juives, vols. 26 and 27; H. Labrosse in Positions des theses de l'Ecole des Chartes (1906).
End of Article: NICOLAUS OF LYRA (c. 1265–1349)
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