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CORNELIUS À LAPIDE, Commentary, Catholic

Module CreationPermissionForward About Author General Preface Translators This commentary was produced using John Loupe utility http://www.johnloupe.net/mfc.htm
Module Utility for e-Sword is a Classic Visual Basic .Module Utility creates Commentary Modules, Dictionary Modules, Topic Modules, converts Study Note files to Commentary Modules and creates MAP Image Modules.

This Module was versified for e-sword by Michael Jacques using
e-Sword MEd (e-Sword Module Editor). (http://www.craigwhite.net/e-sword)

ommentary module created with e-Sword MEd (e-Sword Module Editor). (http://www.craigwhite.net/e-sword)

This Module was Created by Michael Jacques using Dictionary module created with e-Sword MEd (e-Sword Module Editor). (http://www.craigwhite.net/e-sword)

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: Re: looking for permission--haven't heard anything
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 23:47:47 -0700 (PDT)
From: Catholic Apologetics Info <cath_apolo@yahoo.com>
Reply-To: cath_apolo@yahoo.com
To: Michael Jacques <mijac@merr.com>

Dear Michael,

My apologise for the late response, As long as you make reference to our site and work you are free to make use of our lapide commentary for the programme you are creating. Permission granted. Keep up the good work you are doing, Remain assured of our prayers,
In Christ Our King and His Most Holy Mother, Anthony Malleus, www.catholicapologetics.info,

--- On Wed, 8/13/08, Michael Jacques <mijac@merr.com> wrote:

> From: Michael Jacques <mijac@merr.com>
> Subject: looking for permission--haven't heard anything
> To: cath_apolo@yahoo.com
> Date: Wednesday, August 13, 2008, 3:49 PM

> I havn't heard anything back. I am looking to make sure that there is not any problem, for your permission to use the Lapide commentary to
> create a module for use in a free Catholic Bible software program???? For more info see info below

> I have been working to produce a solid Catholic Bible and Catechetical study software program which is free for the public, Catholic Bible
> Douay Rheims and a number of Commentaries, Catholic encyclopedia, catechism ect. I want to make sure that since the Lapide
> commentary is free public doamin it is okay with you to produce a Lapide commentary as a module for the software program as I hope that the
Lapide commentary available on your site will ultimately include the whole NT. This is a great asset in conjunction of other Catholic Commentaries
for the building up of the faith. Thank You Michael Jacques
> You can see the work on the web site all free for downloads, so far in 5 months we have more than 4,000 hits and more than 9,000 downloads
> of the material. A great Catholic software Bible Study Program and best of all its free for download and nothing out there compares to
> this, its also going to get better.

> From: http://www.esnips.co...olicApolegetics
> What we have here at this web site a synopsis:
> These are all eSword modules-Bibles, Commentaries, Dictionaries, and Topical all for the eSword base Bible software
> program.. All to help Catholics and those interested in knowing more or understanding what the Catholic Church truly teaches and
> why. All modules are free as well as the Base esword program for download. The Base progam is a free download at:
http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html .
> e-Sword is a fast and effective way to study the Bible. e-Sword is feature rich and user friendly with more capabilities than you would expect in a free software package. The fact that e-Sword is free is just one of the blessings and does not speak of the quality of the software. I make my living writing software and I
> believe I have put forth my best effort in this endeavor. The real work, however, was put in by the godly men and women who devoted
> countless years creating the texts that have been made available for our benefit. (From the e-sword Web site Rick Myers)
> The Program has the ability to accept user created modules hence a substantial number of user Catholic modules including the Early Teachings of the Church in the first few centuries (a must read), Haydock Commentary, St Thomas works in the Catena commentary on Gospels by early church fathers, and his Summa Theologica, a number of Catholic Bibles, Catechism, 1909 Catholic encyclopedia another must, a Catholic Doctrinal Concordance, and a number of special tools for studying
> the Bible With Greek and Latin tools for studying the basic Greek Grammer and Latin language to enhance one's understanding of definitions etc. This
> has become a consolidation of free modules for e-Sword base progam, modules scattered across ensips web, and a few other websites on
> the internet all to make for easier download and finding of Catholic modules and good study tools. Michael Jacques.
> Hoping to add some good Catholic commentary and dictionaries which would be great editions at a $ Cost. Michael Jacques
Cornelius a Lapide created a Scripture Commentary so complete and scholarly that it was practically the universal commentary in use by Catholics (often available only in 30 some Latin volumes) for hundreds of years. As part of the mission of Loreto Publications' apostolate we have spent a lot of time and money over the last four years to produce a translation and design a beautiful edition of this priceless commentary so long hidden from the eyes of most Catholics. Now is your opportunity to own this masterpiece.
Forward to a Lapide's Scripture Commentary
The divorce between sanctity and scholarship that has grown ever since the Reformation is perhaps the greatest impediment today to study of the Scriptures or Theology of any kind. For the first fifteen centuries of Christianity's existence, it was presumed that one studied and commented on the Bible as part of one's own personal quest for holiness and salvation. The fathers of the church, those great saints of the first six hundred years, whose commentaries, for the most part have formed the Church's scriptural exegesis, were just that—great saints. So too with the Scholastics of the Middle Ages, such as SS. Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure, and Bl. Duns Scotus. But from the time of Martin Luther, biblical research has tended to degenerate ever more into either an intellectual exercise or a search for textual weapons with which to belabor ideological opponents. Perhaps one of the last major commentators to bridge the gap between piety and proficiency was the compiler of the four volumes here before you, Cornelius a Lapide (1567-1637).
The facts of his biography are, on the surface, fairly simple. The Catholic Encyclopedia informs us that:
He studied humanities and philosophy at the Jesuit colleges of Maestricht and Cologne, theology first, for half a year, at the University of Douai, and afterwards for four years at Louvain; he entered the Society of Jesus, 11 June, 1592, and, after two years' noviciate and another year of theology, was ordained priest 24 December, 1595. After teaching philosophy for half a year, he was made professor of holy Scripture at Louvain in 1596 and next year of Hebrew also. Twenty years later, in 1616, he was called to Rome in the same capacity, where, on the 3rd of November, he assumed the office which he filled with such renown for many years after. The latter years of his life, however, he seems to have devoted exclusively to finishing and correcting his celebrated commentaries. He was a sincerely pious and zealous priest and an exemplary religious. During his professorship at Louvain he liked to spend his holidays preaching and administering the sacraments, especially at the pilgrimage of Scherpenheuvel (Montaigu).
With moving simplicity and truth he portrayed himself in an emotional prayer to the Prophets at the end of his commentary on Daniel: "For nearly thirty years I suffer with and for you with gladness the continual martyrdom of religious life, the martyrdom of illness, the martyrdom of study and writing; obtain for me also, I beseech you, to crown all, the fourth martyrdom, of blood. For you I have spent my vital and animal spirits; I will spend my blood too." With his brethren in religion at Rome he enjoyed so high a reputation for sanctity that, when he died, they gave him a separate burial place, in order to be the more certain of finding his bones when eventually, as they hoped, he should receive the honour of beatification.
Illuminating as this account is in terms of bare facts, there is much left unsaid. Douai, where a Lapide spent a crucial half-year, was also the training ground for many of the fearless English Catholic priests who returned to spread the Faith in their unhappy homeland. Without a doubt, he would have met many a young man whose fate and joy it was to be hanged, drawn, and quartered by the minions of Elizabeth at Tyburn Tree. This taste of heroism no doubt affected his decision to join the Society of Jesus, seedbed of so many martyrs at that time, not only in the British Isles but as far afield as Japan.
Of course, the young a Lapide did not have to look so far to find heroes and martyrs for the Faith—quite the contrary! The Netherlands into which the young a Lapide was born was torn by religious and military strife. The church at Scherpenheuvel in Flemish Brabant (to the east of Brussels), for example, at whose pilgrimage a Lapide was such a renowned preacher, was very much a product of combat. Originally the site of a cross-shaped tree in whose boughs rested a statue of the Virgin (about which many miracles had clustered), the place had acquired a great reputation for answered prayers. Starting with the Beeldenstorm ("Iconoclasm") of 1566, in which Calvinist mobs surged throughout the Netherlands (modern Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands were in those days united under the Spanish Crown), mobs of pilgrims arrived in Scherpenheuvel seeking, not just healing, but safety from the Protestants. By 1602, the numbers of visitors (and their alms) allowed a small chapel to be built to house the image. Five years later, two very illustrious pilgrims arrived: Archduke Albert of Austria, Governor of the Netherlands, and his wife, the Archduchess Isabella (who was also King Philip II of Spain's daughter). They prayed for the defeat of the Protestant forces who were besieging Ostend, and promised that if victory were granted to the Catholic defenders, they would build a new and more beautiful church to house our Lady's statue. The Protestants were in fact defeated and the siege raised; in 1609 the Archducal couple began a new building. By its completion in 1629, the new church was the jewel of baroque architecture we know today (Pius XI declared it a basilica), and the whole town had been reoriented around it.
Having been born the year after the Beeldenstorm, a Lapide's entire childhood and youth were dominated by the conflict. When he was five years old, in 1572, the Calvinists executed the martyrs of Gorkum, seventeen priests and religious who refused to renounce transubstantiation and the papal supremacy—thenceforth, every Flemish child would know of their example. As the war went on (it would come to be called the "Eighty Years War") the Calvinists came to dominate the northern part of the Netherlands, and the Catholics and Spanish the south—hence the division today between the mostly post-Protestant Dutch (although practicing Catholics now outnumber practicing Protestants in the Netherlands, and prior to the Vatican II—in part because of their history of persecution—the Dutch Catholics were renowned for their fervor) and the Catholic Flemish, for all that their language remains almost identical.
Louvain, the university where a Lapide became most renowned for his pastoral work, his scholarship, and his piety, was well protected from actual conflict by Spanish and local Catholic troops. But while this haven provided physical security, the religious conflict, in the Netherlands and throughout Northern Europe was never far away. To Louvain came such as the Presbyterian John Ogilivie from Scotland, who was received into the Church by Father a Lapide, followed his mentor into the Society of Jesus, returned to Scotland as a missionary, and after reconciling many of his countrymen to the Faith, was hanged in 1615—only to be canonized by Paul VI. Fr. a Lapide played a key role in the life of another saint when, having been transferred to Rome, he administered the last rites to S. John Berchmans.
But for Cornelius a Lapide, his place in the battle lines of the 17th century was neither on the field of combat nor in the missionary field. Instead, he fought the war in two other areas. One, of course, was in himself—that battle for personal holiness that all of us are called upon to wage, and in which most of us regularly fail. The second, however, was that which lay at the root of the Protestant revolt: interpretation of the Bible.
Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the rest had based their revolt upon the supposed right of "private judgment"—the notion that the Holy Ghost will give to each believer the meaning of the often obscure passages of holy Scripture. Of course, this task, heretofore universally accepted to be part of the Church's mission, had, as noticed, already been extensively dealt with by the Church fathers and doctors. But for the Protestants, all this commentary was simply to be discarded in favor of whatever the Holy Ghost appeared to tell the individual. Practically speaking, however, the "Reformers" quickly decided that it was what the Holy Ghost told their founders (Luther for the Lutheran, Calvin for the Presbyterians, Puritans, and Reformed) that was to be followed. During the conflicts—religious and political—that arose, oceans of ink were spilled publishing a vast array of contradictory books and pamphlets that had one goal—attempting to refute the Catholic understanding of Scripture with that of whichever of the "Reforming" gurus the particular writer favored. It was on this confusing battlefield that Cornelius a Lapide took his stand.
The vast scholarship of the Flemish Jesuit was equaled by his piety —and it gives a freshness and a power to his commentaries lacking in those of many other. He adduces both historians and the greatest Church fathers to provide a line by line reading of all the Scriptures save Job and the Psalms. So effective was his work that many converts were made by it, and several Anglican and Lutheran theologians adopted and enjoined its use (obviously, these were of the high church variety). From a Lapide's Scriptural studies emerged his views on Marian devotion—especially that of "Slavery to Mary." S. Louis Marie de Montfort, the great exponent of this practice, speaks of a Lapide's attitude toward it in his True Devotion to Mary—"Cornelius a Lapide, as praiseworthy for his piety as for his profound erudition, having been commissioned by several bishops and theologians to examine this devotion, did so with great thoroughness and deliberation, and praised it in a manner which we might have expected from his well known piety; and many other distinguished persons have followed his example."
Other, later, saints also derived much from our author. S. Gaspar Bertoni, for example, founder of the Stigmatine Fathers and quite a Biblical commentator himself, was heavily influenced by Cornelius a Lapide. S. Anthony Mary Claret was also very fond of his work, and, indeed, the same could be said of many more saints, blesseds, and holy founders.
Unfortunately, the 19th and 20th centuries saw a tragic event which effectively cut off the wisdom of a Lapide from a world ever more in need of it: part of the continuing decay of education in western countries was the gradual abandonment of the study and teaching of Latin—to the point that even at Rome's Gregorian University, once the great light of the Jesuit Order, and where Cornelius himself had taught, had, until his firing in 2006, only a single Latin instructor, and he was a Carmelite. Clearly, for some, ignorance is indeed strength.
At any rate, what this meant is that the strong meat of a Lapide's Commentaries were denied to the vast majority of Catholics and others. In both France and England in the 19th century, one reaction to this was the translation of key liturgical and theological works into the vernacular. Thus, Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B. revealed in French the treasures of the Missal in The Liturgical Year, done into English by Dom Laurence Shepherd; John Mason Neale translated many of the hymns of the Divine Office into English verse; and the Marquess of Bute did the same with the breviary as a whole. As part of this general movement, the Reverend Thomas W. Mossman (1826-1885), Rector of East Torrington and Vicar of West Torrington, Lincolnshire, translated much of Cornelius a Lapide's commentaries into English. His translation was the basis for that of the four gospels which you see before you.
At this point, the Catholic reader might fear either that the Reverend Mossman might have left something out, or perhaps mistranslated the text. Well, he did in fact leave out about a quarter of a Lapide's work—not, however, for party reasons, but because the material is of a technical nature, dealing with linguistic issues, and translations back and forth between Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; doubtless he felt that these matters would not appeal to the general reader (the fact that the rest would says much about the educated Victorian public). In any case, in the version you have, all of that has been restored. Moreover, his translation was very nearly perfect. All of which having been said, why did he do it, and why should a Catholic employ his work? The answer is at once simple and intriguing: the Reverend Mossman led a double life. He was at once a respected Church of England clergyman, and one of the three duly consecrated bishops in the Order of Corporate Reunion.
Arriving at Oxford in 1845, Mossman became a member of the Oxford Movement, which had been agitating the university and all England since Keble's sermon on "National Apostasy" in 1833. The year he became an undergraduate, however, John Henry Newman, who had been one of the leaders of the movement from its inception finally decided to join the Catholic Church. Many members of the movement would follow him, but many more remained within the fold of the Church of England. Under the continuing leadership of Newman's one-time collaborator, Edward Pusey, such as these believed in the Movement's original goal of "re-catholicizing" the Church of England. Moreover, they believed in foreign missions and domestic slum work on a grand scale. Thus were the origins of the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism that has survived until our own day. But within Anglo-Catholicism two separate currents emerged: one held that the point of vestments, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, veneration of our Lady and the saints, etc., was to give Anglicans everything that Catholics had, without having to submit to the pope; the other believed that reunion with Rome ought to be the goal, as the best means of re-evangelizing England and the English-speaking world.
By the time Mossman graduated in 1849, he had definitely adhered to the latter wing of Anglo-Catholicism. The following year he was ordained to the Anglican priesthood, and after serving as a curate in several spots, he was made Rector-Vicar of the Torringtons. Having unsuccessfully tried on his own to revive religious life in the Church of England with a "Brotherhood of the Holy Redeemer," in 1856 he joined the newborn "Society of the Holy Cross," a non-residential Anglican order. Then as now, it was one of the pillars of Anglo-Catholicism.
The mid-19th century was truly a boom-time for the Anglo-Catholics. religious orders, devotional societies (Society of Mary, Guild of All Souls, Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, Society of King Charles the Martyr) given over to Marian and Eucharistic veneration, and prayer for the dead—shunned by the "reformers"—and all manner of works at home and abroad mushroomed. Various elements of the Sarum and Roman rites were revived or adapted, and used to augment the rather sparse liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer. Lights, vestments, and processions revived, and some bishops once again began to wear mitres. But there was opposition as well, and since many of the Protestant forms of worship were mandated by law, a few Anglo-Catholic clerics did jail time for reviving some of these practices, and many more were threatened.
The result was the generation of an enormous body of literature intended to defend the revived practices from every conceivable point of view: scriptural, theological, historical, legal, or whatever came to hand. The men who wrote this stuff—most often graduates of Oxford or Cambridge—were highly educated in a manner almost impossible to conceive of today. Armed with a knowledge of Greek, Latin, and the literatures and histories of those languages (to say nothing of English, French, German, and often others) university graduates were expected to be able to do anything. Some went forth so intellectually armed to govern parts of India and other British colonies. But Mossman put his talents to the service of the church as he conceived her. Among the large number of histories, commentaries, and translations he wrote, the English version of Cornelius a Lapide stands out. It was nothing less than a scriptural defense of the Catholic Church, a shining light in a time of confusion and controversy—not unlike those times when a Lapide first set it down.
But just what was that church? So far as Anglo-Catholics (who believed in the validity of Anglican orders), were concerned, the one Catholic Church had three independent branches—the Roman, the Eastern, and the Anglican (later they would add Old Catholics and some Lutheran bodies). For some Anglo-Catholics, as mentioned, the status quo was fine: the Church of England was simply the Catholic Church in England, no different from the national Churches of France and Spain, save that those were in communion with Rome. Some of such thinkers went so far as to dub the Roman clergy in England the "Italian Mission," and to claim that those who converted to Catholicism were "abandoning" their ancient and ancestral church.
But, as also noticed, others thought that since neither the queen of Great Britain nor the tsar of Russia (the heads of the two leading European national churches during the 19th century) could possibly be considered proper religious leaders, unity with the pope was essential. But rather than convert as individuals, such folk thought it necessary to give the Church of England a makeover, catholicize it, and bring the whole country over to Rome en masse.
There were Catholics of a like mind. In 1857, wealthy Catholic layman, Ambrose Phillipps De Lisle and noted architect Augustus Pugin joined with the papalist Anglo-Catholic cleric and scholar, Frederick G. Lee, the Rector of All Saints, Lambeth to form the Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom. Its members bound themselves to work for the reunion of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, and the Church of England. For most members of either faith, the goal was the establishment of a sort of Anglican Uniate Rite, united with Rome but preserving a married clergy, vernacular bible, and communion under both species. In 1864, however, the holy see ordered the Catholic members to leave the organization, which they did. Three decades later, Anglican survivors would help found the "Catholic League," which still prays for the reunion of Anglicanism with Rome. In all of this activity, however, Mossman remained an interested and sympathetic spectator.
But the holy see was not uninterested in reunion; they wanted to make sure that all aspects of such a move be directed from the Vatican. When Bl. Pius IX restored the hierarchy of bishops to England in 1850, he did not restore the historic sees, as he did in Scotland and the Netherlands later in the century. This was to underline the provisional nature of the Church in England. The pope made it quite clear that if the Anglican bishops wished to return to communion with the holy see, their dioceses would become the units of governance, and they themselves would retain their cathedrals and sees.
But the flurry of Anglo-Catholic activity in England during those years led many, including Pius, to believe that the Church of England was, in fact, in the process of catholicizing itself. One strong problem, however, was the lack of validity of Anglican orders. No less a stalwart than Frederick Lee became convinced—in the course of writing a book in defense of the Anglican position—that the Roman position was correct. Various others, to include Mossman, felt the same way. Eventually, the Order of Corporate Reunion was born, with the precise goal of reuniting the Church of England with Rome through a program of "validating" Anglican clerics. Due to the literary prominence of Lee and Mossman, who were both members, Rome became convinced of the feasibility of the project. The result was a rather strange ceremony in early 1877.
Conducted in strictest secrecy—allegedly aboard a boat off Venice and so out of any diocesan territory—the cardinal archbishop of Milan, the patriarch of Venice, and an Armenian Catholic bishop co-consecrated, using the Ambrosian Rite, three Englishmen as bishops for the Order of Corporate Reunion. These were Mossman, Lee, and John Thomas Seccombe (1835-95), who had been instrumental in the attempt to form a Western Orthodox Church. Upon their return to England in June, the trio issued a "pastoral" explaining the doctrinal decay of the Anglican Church and the necessity of what they were doing. Given that the work of the order was to remain secret, the three new bishops signed their letter to the English with pseudonyms: Thomas, Pro-Provincial of Canterbury (Mossman); Joseph, Provincial of York (Seccombe); and Laurence, Provincial of Caerleon (Lee). Seccombe quickly lost interest, and drifted out of the picture. Mossman, soon notorious for his "validation" work, was expelled from the Society of the Holy Cross, and died in 1885, received on his deathbed into the Catholic Church by his old friend, Cardinal Manning. Dr. Lee soldiered on, retiring from his parish in 1899, being received into the Catholic Church in 1901, and dying the following year; before this, he destroyed all his files relating to the Order, so that little can be known for sure. Still, today, many "Old Catholic" groups claim descent from it.
Although the O.C.R. did not achieve its goal, it does show that Mossman was willing to make sacrifices for the tenets of the Catholic Faith, in which he believed completely—to include the infallibility of the pope. As with a Lapide, he combined action in a time of controversy with prayer and study. In this way, he certainly became a worthy translator for the greatest single work of biblical exegesis in recent centuries.
Which brings us at last to ourselves. As noted, this edition includes the quarter-portion of "technical" stuff left out of Mossman's original. Here and there his translation needed a bit of touching up. All-in-all, this is an edition that will go far to open up the riches of a Lapide to the general public. Not a moment too soon, either. As with he himself and Mossman, we live in a world of controversy and strife. Knowledge of the four gospels is as powerful a weapon against falsehood and error in the 21st century as it was in the 17th and 19th centuries. Let us all be grateful we now need not be unarmed.
Charles A. Coulombe
27 July 2007 Cornelius Cornelii a Lapide
(Cornelis Cornelissen van den Steen)
Flemish Jesuit and exegete, b. at Bocholt, in Flemish Limburg, 18 December, 1567; d. at Rome, 12 March, 1637. He studied humanities and philosophy at the Jesuit colleges of Maestricht and Cologne, theology first, for half a year, at the University of Douai, and afterwards for four years at Louvain; he entered the Society of Jesus, 11 June, 1592, and, after two years' noviciate and another year of theology, was ordained priest 24 December, 1595. After teaching philosophy for half a year, he was made professor of Holy Scripture at Louvain in 1596 and next year of Hebrew also. Twenty years later, in 1616, he was called to Rome in the same capacity, where, on the 3rd of November, he assumed the office which he filled with such renown for many years after. The latter years of his life, however, he seems to have devoted exclusively to finishing and correcting his celebrated commentaries. He was a sincerely pious and zealous priest and an exemplary religious. During his professorship at Louvain he liked to spend his holidays preaching and administering the sacraments, especially at the pilgrimage of Scherpenheuvel (Montaigu). With moving simplicity and truth he portrayed himself in an emotional prayer to the Prophets at the end of his commentary on Daniel: "For nearly thirty years I suffer with and for you with gladness the continual martyrdom of religious life, the martyrdom of illness, the martyrdom of study and writing; obtain for me also, I beseech you, to crown all, the fourth martyrdom, of blood. For you I have spent my vital and animal spirits; I will spend my blood too." With his brethren in religion at Rome he enjoyed so high a reputation for sanctity that, when he died, they gave him a separate burial place, in order to be the more certain of finding his bones when eventually, as they hoped, he should receive the honour of beatification.
Cornelius a Lapide wrote ample commentaries on all the books of the Catholic Canon of Scripture, with the exception only of Job and the Psalms. Even before leaving Flanders, he edited the "Commentaries in omnes divi Pauli epistolas" (1614) and, "in Pentateuchum" (1616), both at Antwerp. The commentaries on the Greater and Lesser Prophets, on the Acts of the Apostles, the Canonical Epistles and the Apocalypse, Ecclesiasticus and the Proverbs, followed later on. The rest were edited only after his death; but all of them have been several times re-edited, both separately and collectively. Of the Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul he himself was permitted to see at least eleven editions. The complete series, with Job and the Psalms added by other hands, appeared at Antwerp, 1681, 1714; at Venice, 1717, 1740, 1798; at Cologne, 1732; at Turin, 1838; at Lyons, 1839-42, 1865 and 1866; at Malta, 1843-46; at Naples, 1854; at Lyons and Paris, 1855 and 1856; at Milan, 1857; at Paris, 1859-63. The best-mentioned edition has been enriched by Crampon and Péronne with annotations from more recent interpreters. All these commentaries are on a very large scale. They explain not only the literal, but also the allegorical, tropological, and anagogical sense of the sacred text, and furnish a large number of quotations from the Fathers and the later interpreters of Holy Writ during the Middle Ages. Like most of his predecessors and contemporaries, a Lapide intends to serve not only the historical and scientific study of the Bible, but, even more, the purposes of pious meditation, and especially of pulpit exposition. An extract from the commentary on the Acts appeared in 1737 at Tyrnau, under the title: "Effigies Sancti Pauli, sive idea vitæ apostolicæ". A large work in 4 vols., "Les trésors de Cornelius a Lapide: extraits de ses commentaires de l'écriture sainte à l'usage des prédicateurs, des communautés et des familles chrétiennes", by the Abbé Barbier, was published at Le Mans and Paris, 1856, re-edited at Paris, 1859, 1872, 1876, 1885, 1896; and an Italian translation of the same by F. M. Faber, appeared at Parma, 1869-70, in 10 vols., 16 mo.
These numerous editions show how highly these works are estimated by Catholics. But Protestant voices have joined in the appreciation. G. H. Goetzius (Leipzig, 1699) wrote an academical dissertation, "Exercitatio theologica de Cornelii a Lapide Commentariis in Sacram Scripturam", in which he praises the Jesuit author as the most important of Catholic Scriptural writers. An English translation of the complete commentaries was undertaken by the Rev. Thomas W. Moseman, an Anglican clergyman, under the title, "The great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide" (London, 1876–). A manuscript in the Vatican Library contains an Arabic translation of the Commentary on the Apocalypse, by Yusuf ibn Girgis (beginning of the eighteenth century). The same Maronite writer is said to have translated the Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul.
TERWECOREN, Cornelius a Lapide in Collection de précis historiques (Brussels, 1857), 610-14, 636-45; DE BACKER AND SOMMERVOGEL, Bibl. de la c. de J. (Brussels and Paris, 1893), IV, 1511-26; IX (1900), 573.
Transcribed by WGKofron
In memory of Fr. John Hilkert, Akron, Ohio. Fidelis servus et prudens, quem constituit Dominus super familiam suam.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV
Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
Assisted by Various Scholars

Fourth Edition


PROCEED from the Old Testament to the New, from Solomon to Christ, as from a rivulet to a fountain: from Proverbs to Gospels, as from a river to the Ocean of Wisdom. Speaking of the Gospels I would place a crown upon the Scriptures of the New Testament.
The dignity, usefulness, and majesty of Scripture are so great that it surpasses the books of all philosophers and theologians, both Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as much as Divine surpasses human wisdom. For Scripture is the Word of God. It is the very utterance of God, by means of which God enunciates His wisdom to us, and points out to us the way to virtue, health, and eternal happiness. S. Augustine asserts that "Sacred Scripture is an Encyclopædia of all the sciences. Here is Natural Philosophy, because all the causes of all creatures are in God, the Creator. Here is Moral Philosophy, because a good and honest life is derived from no other source than the love of God and our neighbour as they ought to be loved. Here is Logic, because Truth and the Light of the rational soul are God. Here is Political Science, for a really flourishing State can neither be founded nor preserved except upon the foundation, and by the bond of faith, and firm concord, when the common good of all is loved: that is to say, when God is loved above all things, and when men love one another in Him, and for His sake." After an interval he adds, "By the Scriptures depraved minds are corrected, little minds are nourished, great minds are delighted. The only minds which are hostile to this doctrine are those which either by going astray know not its healthfulness, or being sick dislike its medicine."
Sacred Scripture is the art of arts, the science of sciences: it is the Pandora of Wisdom. In our own time, S. Theresa, a woman endowed with the spirit of prophecy, and renowned throughout all Spain for the glory of her miracles, and the sanctity of her life, was taught by God that all the troubles of the Church, all the evils in the world, flow from this source, that men do not, by clear and sound knowledge, and serious consideration, penetrate into the verities of Sacred Scripture. See Franciscus Ribera, her Life.
S. Basil (Hom. in Ps. I) says, "Holy Scripture is the universal depository of medicine for the cure of souls. From it every one may select the remedy which is salutary and appropriate for his own disease."
Thus it was that in the age of the martyrs, the Church drew from Holy Scripture courage and fortitude; in the times of the doctors aptitude both to learn and teach, the illumination of wisdom, floods of eloquence; in the ages of heresy, confirmation of faith, whereby errors were plucked up: in prosperity she learns from Holy Scripture humility and modesty, in adversity greatness of soul. Lastly, if at any time in all the gliding years the Church be deformed by the wrinkles of old age, by spots, or blemishes, it is from the Scriptures she derives correction of morals, and a return to her primitive state of virtue and dignity.
Now, of all the Divine writings, the Gospel is the most excellent, says S. Augustine (de Consens. Evan. c. I). "For that which the Law and the Prophets foretold was to be is shown in the Gospel to be accomplished. Prophecy is the Gospel veiled as the Gospel is prophecy unveiled." Hear S. Ambrose: "It is the Gospel by which the martyr ascends to heaven. The Gospel is the sea in which the Apostles fish: wherein the net is cast to which the kingdom of heaven is like. The Gospel is the sea in which the mysteries of Christ are figured. The Gospel is the sea in which the Hebrews were saved, the Egyptians drowned. The Gospel is the sea, wherein is the plentitude of Divine grace, wherein is the Spouse of Christ, which has been founded upon the seas, as the prophet hath said, 'He hath founded it upon the seas.'"
Christ cries aloud, "I am the Light of the World," for by means of the Light of the Gospel which I spread abroad, I illuminate the whole world. The Gospel, therefore, is the Light of the world, and its Sun. This is why, when it is read, candles are lighted. This was an ancient custom even in the time of Jerome, as he shows in his work against Vigilantius: "In all the Eastern churches when the Gospel is read, lights are kindled, even when the sun is shining, not for the purpose of banishing darkness, but as a mark of joy. Whence also the virgins in the parable always had their lamps burning, that under the figure of corporeal light there might be set forth the light of which we read in the Psalter, 'Thy word, O Lord, is a light unto my feet, and a lantern unto my paths.'"
This is why there has ever been, not only by the Saints but by all Christians, wonderful reverence paid to the Gospel, wonderful love, wonderful veneration. Constantine the Great sent a book of the Gospels, adorned with gold and precious stones, to S. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. The Emperor Theodosius wrote the Gospels with his own hand, and was wont to read them a good part of the night. The Œcumenical Councils of Nicæa, Chalcedon, and Ephesus, caused a volume containing the Gospels to be placed in the midst of their house of assembly, that to it, as to the Person of Christ, they might turn, as though Christ Himself were saying to them, "Judge righteous judgment." (S. Cyril, in Apolog.) Even the heretics, who have expunged some books of Holy Scripture from the Canon, mutilated and depraved others, have not dared to meddle with the Gospels. Even heathens have respected the Gospels. How high an opinion the Platonists had of them S. Austin relates. de Civit. Dei, 10. 29. And in his Confessions he says, that in a certain Platonic book he had found the first words of S. John's Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word," but not the sentence, "The Word was made flesh." In fine, the devils tremble at beholding the Book of the Gospels; and S. Chrysostom says, they dare not enter the place in which it is kept. (Hom. 31 in Joan.)
Christ has wrought many miracles by means of the Gospels. Hear a few out of many. Gregory of Tours relates that when a certain city was in a state of conflagration S. Gall entered the church, and prayed for a long time before the altar. He then rose and took the Book of the Gospels, and placed himself in front of the fire, which was immediately extinguished. Zonaras also, in his Life of Basil the Macedonian, relates that the Russians were converted by seeing a book of the Gospels preserved uninjured in the flames.
The Holy Gospels claim the surpassing dignity which they hold, as well on account of their subject as because of their Author. Their subject is God Himself, as God and Man. That is to say, the Gospels relate the deeds and the words of Christ the Lord, by means of which He has redeemed us, and taught both what we should believe, and what we should do, that we may arrive at eternal life. Therefore Christ in the Gospels deals with the divine precepts and counsels, with the perfection of Christian life. He speaks of the Sacraments, of faith, hope, and charity, of the Trinity, and indeed of the whole matter with which theology is conversant. You might, with S. Jerome, give this definition of the Gospels: "A Breviary and Compendium of all Theology."
The Author, and as we might call Him, the Choragus in the Evangelical Drama, who is the chief, almost the sole actor and speaker, is Christ the Lord. "God," says the Apostle to the Hebrews, "who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds." Therefore not Moses, nor prophets, nor kings, but the Only-Begotten One, who from the mind of the Father hath drawn the secrets of the Divine Wisdom, and the very uncreated Wisdom itself, hath made the same known unto us in the Gospels. The very omniscient Word, I say, here speaks to us with His own mouth, and declares the mysteries kept secret from eternity, though shadowed forth by so many figures in the Law and the Prophets.
This is another way by which the Gospels vindicate for themselves the dignity which is due to them. They have been so formed by the Holy Ghost that those who are simple and unlearned should not be without profit in reading them, whilst great and lofty intellects may discover many things both difficult and obscure in which they may find exercise for their highest powers. "The Divine Word," says S. Gregory (Prefat. in Job, c. 4), "exercises by its mysteries those who are prudent and comforts the simple, for the most part, by what appears on its surface. It has openly wherewith to nourish the little ones: it preserves in secret things whereby it may fill with admiration the minds of the lofty. It is, if I may so say, a river which is both shallow and deep: in which a lamb may wade, and an elephant may swim." For indeed the doctrine of Christ is easy and accessible both to the lowly and the learned: it is only difficult and inaccessible to those who are proud, or slothful, or have confidence in themselves. "I give thanks unto Thee, O Father," saith Christ, "because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, because it hath seemed good in Thy sight."
These and many other such like things you will clearly perceive, if you compare the Law with the Gospel. Under the Law I include the Prophets, and all the other books of the Old Testament: under the Gospel, the rest of the New Testament. The Gospels are, as it were, their base and centre. As the sun shines resplendent in the midst of the planets, and as they borrow their light from him, and circle around him, and move, as I may say, in a kind of choric dance, so is the Gospel refulgent like the sun amongst the writings of the Apostles, and imparts to them its own light and splendour. For what else are Peter, Paul, James, John, and Jude than preachers and interpreters of the Gospel? "Paul," says S. Jerome (Epist. 61, ad Pammach.), "is the Gospel trumpet, the roaring of our lion, the flood of Christian eloquence." Thus the Acts of the Apostles set forth Gospel practice; the Epistles of S. Paul and the other Apostles, Gospel doctrine; the Apocalypse, prophecy. For what Christ foretold concerning Elias, Antichrist, the Judgment, and the end of the world, and the signs which shall go before it, John, in the Apocalypse, relates and unfolds more at length. Christ in the Gospel is, as it were, the Supreme Lawgiver, Apostle, Evangelist, and Doctor. He likewise is the Divine Seer and Prophet.
Christ Himself is the true Author of the Gospel. For this very cause He clothed His Godhead with our flesh, that by means of it, He might dictate the Gospel with His own mouth. "For," as S. John says, "The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." What then is the Gospel? It is the Book of Christ, the Philosophy of Christ, the Theology of Christ; it is the most joyful message of Christ concerning redemption, and the everlasting salvation of the human race, brought by Himself from heaven, and conferred upon believers in Him. For Christ spake far more sublime and divine things by His own mouth than He spake by Moses and the Prophets.
To read, then, or to hear the Gospel, is to read or to hear the very words of the Son of God. And thus the Gospel must be listened to with the self-same reverence as if we were listening to Christ Himself. And this is what we read S. Anthony, S. Basil, S. Francis, and other saints did. "Let us hearken to the Gospel," saith S. Austin, "as to the Lord: the Lord is above, but here, too, is the Lord, the Truth." This is why, when the Gospel is read in church, all stand up, as venerating Christ. This custom has Apostolic sanction. Hear S. Clement (in book 2 of the Apostolic Constitutions, c. 61), "When the Gospel is read, let all the presbyters, deacons, and laity stand up, and keep perfect silence." Isidore of Pelusium shows that the same custom should also be observed by bishops: "When the True Pastor himself approaches, by opening the adorable Gospels, then at last the bishop rises, by this signifying that the Lord Himself is the Prince of the pastoral office, and that God his Master is present." (Lib. I Epist. 136.) Sozomen condemns the Alexandrine custom, by which, contrary to the general usage of the Church, the bishop does not rise when the Gospels are read. (Lib. 9, c. 39.) Moreover, the Eighth General Council (Act. 10. Can.) decrees that equal honour shall be paid to the Gospels as to the Cross of Christ: "We decree that the sacred image of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, shall be reverenced with the same honour as the book of the Holy Gospels. For like as by the words which are contained in the Book all attain to salvation, so by depicting in colours, both wise men as well as the unlearned receive profit from that which is before their eyes. For that which is in syllables are the words of Scripture, and they are preached and commended to us by pictures."
A second reason for the superiority of the Gospel over the Law is found in the surpassing excellence of its doctrine. The doctrine of the Gospel greatly excels that which is found in the Law. The Law declares that one God is to be believed in and worshipped. The Gospel preaches of God, One in Essence, but Three in Person, who is to be loved and worshipped. "Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." I allow that in the Law and the Prophets there was a foreshadowing of the mystery of the Trinity. And it was from thence that Trismegistus drew his oracular saying, "Monad begat Monad, and reflected back his warmth upon Himself." But he neither understood nor penetrated the truth of the mystery. This, too, the Platonists followed after, but they did not attain unto it. They corrupted the truth by an error similar to Arianism, for whilst they proclaimed one chief God, they held that there were lesser and inferior gods. The prophets darkly and obscurely foretell the birth, life, cross, passion, and ascension of Christ, the mission of the Holy Ghost, the calling and conversion of all nations; but the Gospel firmly and clearly announces these things. The foreknowledge, providence, predestination, omnipotence, infinite love of God, and all His other attributes, are openly and distinctly set forth, not by the Law, but by the Gospel. "No man," saith S. John, "hath seen God at any time: the only begotten Son who is in the Bosom of the Father, he hath declared Him." Therefore, when Christ was made man, He descended from the bosom of His Father into the bosom of His Mother, that He might declare unto us the secrets of the Father, which were known to Himself alone. This, in truth, is "the great mystery of godliness," which, as the Apostle says, "was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory." This verily is not in the Law, but in the Gospel.
S. Anthony, as Anastasius testifies in his Life, called the Gospel "a Letter of God sent down from heaven," teaching how we ought to journey towards heaven, how we ought to please God, and live a good and perfect life. Excellently saith S. Bernard (Serm. 1, on the Seven Loaves), "The Gospel is the mirror of truth; it flatters no one, it misleads no one; in it every one will find himself just what he is, so that he need not fear where there is no cause for fear, nor yet rejoice when he hath done evil." S. Gregory uses the same metaphor (lib. 2 Mor. c. 1), "Sacred Scripture is placed before the eyes of the mind, as it were a mirror, that in it we may behold our inward face; in it we can behold our deformity and our beauty; there we discern how we have profited, there how far we have been from profiting." With this S. Ambrose agrees, saying (Serm. 20 in Ps. 119), "The Gospel not only teaches the faith, it is the school of morals, the mirror of conversation."
Let us admire the sentiment of S. Bernard, who does not hesitate to say (Serm. 1 in Sep.) that he who hears, reads, meditates upon the word of God with profit, hath a sign and a pledge of his predestination; and, that you may not be astonished, he adds the reason: "He that is of God," saith the Truth, "heareth the words of God. Ye, therefore, hear them because ye are of God." Thus S. Cecilia, the glory of Rome, the princess of virgins, the standard-bearer of the martyrs, always carried the Gospel of Christ in her bosom, which neither flame, nor sword, nor torments were able to wrest from her; but by it she not only won for herself the laurels of virginity and martyrdom, but instructed and prepared her betrothed, Valerian, and her brother, Tiburtius, and many more, for the same laurels; so that deservedly does the Church sing of her, "Thine handmaid, Lord, Cecilia, like unto an industrious bee, doth Thee service."
Lastly, the Law made no Apostles, but the Gospel hath made very many. For "the word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, reaching even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." For the Gospel has this force, that it causes him who believes in it to engage in propagating it, and so makes him a herald and preacher of it.
S. Chrysanthus, who empurpled Rome by a copious stream of his own and his relations' blood, being converted to Christ from heathenism by reading the Gospel, afterwards converted his wife, Daria; and after that he drew men, and Daria women, without number, to faith and chastity.
S. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, when he was propagating the faith of Christ in Germany, about the year A.D. 750, always carried about with him the sacred volume of the Gospels. Even in his martyrdom he did not let it go, but when the Frisons brandished their swords above his head he opposed this book as a sort of spiritual shield; and by a remarkable miracle, although the book was cut right in twain by a sharp sword, not a single letter was destroyed. S. Dominic, that illustrious torch of the Church, the Father of the Friars Preachers, had the Gospel of S. Matthew for his constant companion. He knew almost the whole of it by heart, and was wont to say, "Without Holy Scripture a preacher cannot exist." Rightly does S. Gregory, upon those words of Job, "Silver has the beginnings of its own veins," say, "Silver is the brightness of eloquence, or wisdom. The veins of Holy Scripture are as if any one should say plainly, it is necessary that he who prepares himself for the words of true preaching should derive their sources from the sacred pages, that whatsoever he speaks he should recall to the foundation of Divine authority, and make firm the edifice of his discourse upon that." When Ven. Bede was dying, almost with his last breath he would finish his translation of S. John's Gospel, and said to his scribe, "Take your pen, and write quickly." Then when the last words were written, like a dying swan, he sang, "Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," and most calmly breathed out his spirit to enjoy the reward of his faith and labours in the Beatific Vision of God, A.D. 731. The Emperor Charles, truly the Great, both in body and in the glory of sacred literature, as well as for his actions, a little before his death, after the coronation of his son Louis, gave himself up entirely to prayer, almsdeeds, and learning. He himself carefully revised the Four Gospels in conformity with their Greek and Syriac originals. Thus he spent his time until his last conflict. His Book of the Gospels is religiously preserved at Aix-la-Chapelle, as I myself have seen. The heretics have been imitators of these things. It is well known of one, Philip Melancthon, that he never went anywhere, never sat down, nor supped, nor dined, without having the Gospels by his side. But, leaving the sectaries, let us return to the Apostles. S. Barnabas was with S. Paul, the first Apostle of the Gentiles. When he was going forth to convert them he wrote out the Gospel of S. Matthew, and carried it about with him wherever he went. At length, dying a martyr for the Gospel in Cyprus, he desired to be buried with it, as a pledge of the heavenly resurrection promised to him. This very Gospel of S. Matthew was found upon his breast in the time of the Emperor Zeno. See his Life. The Apostle Bartholomew, as Eusebius tells us (H. E. v. 10), took with him to the Indies the Gospel of S. Matthew in Hebrew, written with his own hand. There he left it, and more than a hundred years afterwards Pantænus found it, and brought it to Alexandria. What turned Saul into Paul? The Gospel. "These were the men," says S. Leo (Serm. 1 on SS. Peter and Paul), "by whom the Gospel shone upon thee, O Rome. They delivered to thee, as a charge to keep, that Gospel which Christ had committed unto them: they sealed it with their blood, that thou shouldst keep it pure, and deliver it, and expound it to all the other Churches as a mistress of truth. This is what Paul proclaims aloud to thee in his Epistle: 'That I may be the minister of Christ to the Gentiles, sanctifying (Gr. ίερουργοϋντα, that is, consecrating) the Gospel of God, that the oblation of the Gentiles may be accepted and sanctified by the Holy Ghost.'" The Gospel, and the preaching and interpretation of the Gospel, is the sacrifice; the Romans and the Gentiles who believe the Gospel are the victims. These the Apostle offered to God as a most acceptable oblation, when he evangelized them. The blood of Paul was the libation by which this sacrifice was bedewed.
The same S. Paul says in his Epistle to the Ephesians, "To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ: and to enlighten all men, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God who created all things: that the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church."
Paul, therefore, was the doctor of angels. S. Chrysostom commenting on the passage says, he taught the principalities and powers the Gospel of Christ. They, therefore, are followers of Paul, and co-workers with him who handle and expound the Gospel, and preach it to countrymen and foreigners, to believers and infidels. These are they whom Isaiah deservedly praises, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things."
It remains that we should apply the doctrines of the Gospel to our own lives and those of others. For the Gospel is a mirror in which every one may behold his own face. "The Life of Christ," says S. Bernard, "is the rule by which I ought to frame my life." Christ is Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. "The First," says S. Austin, "in eternity, the Last by humility."
Let us learn then from the Evangel to live evangelically, that is, angelically. For Christ as an Angel descended from heaven that He might teach men angelic life and doctrine, yea, that of men He might make angels, and in a certain sense, gods. Christ shall come to his temple, and purify the priesthood. They that continue in their evil ways shall be punished: but true penitents shall receive a blessing. "Behold, I" saith He by the Prophet Malachi, "send My Angel, and He shall prepare the way before My face: presently the Lord whom you seek, the angel of the testament whom you desire, shall come to His temple, even the Angel of the Covenant, whom ye delight in, saith the Lord of hosts."
Wherefore from Him, who is the Eternal Wisdom of the Father, we must diligently ask light and the grace of His Spirit, that He who sat in the midst of the Doctors when He was about to make a commencement of the Gospel, would even now open it both to teachers and taught, that they may understand it, and fulfil their understanding of it by Christian works.
Let us say therefore again and again with S. Augustine, if not with equal, yet with similar fervour (lib. Translators

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Dear Michael, Thank you for your enquiry. I am now at the office and have the volumes in front of me.
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