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The Great Commentary Of Cornelius À Lapide Volumes 1 To 8

THE Syriac version of the Gospels was made, as it would seem, from the Greek, and is extant in the royal Bibles. The Arabic version was printed at Rome with a translation, at the Medici printing press, A.D. 1591. I frequently cite both these versions.

I have also found in the Vatican Library at Rome the Coptic, or Egyptian version of the Gospels, the Ethiopian, and the Persian, all very ancient. For the Gospel was brought into Egypt soon after Christ by S. Mark, into Ethiopia by S. Matthew, into Persia by S. Simon and S. Jude. And so the faith of the Gospel flourished in those regions. In them there were swarms of holy monks and brave martyrs. A Persian version was transmitted by Jerome Xavier, the Jesuit, a cousin of S. Francis Xavier, from the city of Arga, in the territory of the King of Mogor, as a precious gift, and a remarkable monument of antiquity, to the Collegium Romanum, where I have collated it. This Codex was transcribed from the original in the Mahometan year 730 of the Hegira, which corresponds to A.D. 1381. The original itself was very much more ancient, for which reason the version contains a great number of Persian words differing from modern Persian. Of all these versions I propose to make use, though in moderation, and cum grano. For they have not the authority of the Greek and Latin Gospels; but they confirm, and to some extent illustrate them. Moreover there are at Rome Ethiopians, or Abyssinians, whose youthful priests are in the habit of coming to the Collegium Romanum. In Rome too there are those who are skilled in other tongues, for the world is in that city. The various Gospels have been interpreted to me by men of the several nations and languages in which they are written, especially by the Reverend Father Athanasius Kincher of our Society, a man well acquainted with the Oriental languages, as may be seen by the Lexicon which he has lately published.

It is said that S. Matthew preached in hither Ethiopia, now called Sennaar, where there are black Ethiopians. He is said to have died in the city of Luah, where there are still standing churches dedicated to him. The rest of Ethiopia, or Abyssinia, attributes its reception of the Gospels and the rest of Holy Scripture, together with the faith of Christ to a certain Ethiopian monk, named Abba Salama, or the father of peace. He was brought up amongst the Eastern Arabs, from whom he derived his knowledge of Christianity and the Holy Scriptures, which he afterwards communicated to the whole of Ethiopia, for which reason he is called its apostle. The Ethiopic version agrees with the Arabic, from which it was derived.

Very many, both in ancient and modern times, have written commentaries on the Gospels. Not to multiply citations, let us quote what S. Jerome says in his preface to S. Matthew: “I confess that I have read many years ago twenty-five volumes of Origen upon S. Matthew, and as many volumes of Homilies. I have read also the commentaries of Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, of Hippolytus the Martyr, and of Theodore of Heraclea, of Apollinarius of Laodicæa, and Didymus of Alexandria. Of Latin commentators, I have read the works of Hilary, Victorinus, and Fortunatus, from whom, even though little be taken, something worthy remembrance might be written down.”

Of recent commentators the number is all but infinite. Their superabundance makes it difficult for the reader to know which to choose, so that he might say with Niobe of old, “Abundance has made me poor.”

For myself, I have written the following commentaries, partly at Louvain, A.D. 1600, partly when I was teaching and lecturing publicly on the Gospels at Rome. I am now an old man, and have passed nearly all my life in learning in the school of the Holy Scriptures. In a science so vast, so sublime and difficult, no one ought to be a teacher and doctor until he has spent long time in studying as a disciple of the doctors.








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