Nicholas of Lyra on Theology

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Postillae by Nicholas de LyraPage from the PostillaeNicholas of Lyra (c. 1270 – 1349) was a French Franciscan doctor who was well known in his own day for his biblical exegesis and was studied voraciously throughout the period up to and including the Reformation, for example Martin Luther and his mentor Johann von Staupitz.  His Postillae Perpetuae in universam S. Scripturam was the first printed full commentary on Scripture (Rome, 1471). The exposition of the biblical text is methodologically in full agreement with Thomas Aquinas’ method of exegesis in the four ways (literal, tropological, anagogical, moral); or to put it another way, Faith, Hope, and Love founded on the literal meaning of the text, which itself can be traced back to Augustine. He would also interpret the Vulgate in light of Hebrew texts and even rabbinic literature. Thus in many ways he is a fore-runner to the Reformation. 

Nicholas comments in his work In Nomine Sanctae Trinitatis … de commendatione sacrae Scripturae in generali (see Migne’s Patrologia Latina vol. 113 cols 25 – 30) that Holy Scripture outstrips philosophers because philosophers are only concerned with this present life and must judge and determine based on this present life. On the other hand, Scripture aims at (more…)