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NICHOLAS OF LYRA: APOCALYPSE COMMENTATOR, HISTORIAN, AND CRITIC Famous for the literal/historical interpretation of the Bible, Nicholas of Lyra, O.F.M. (1270-1349) made his mark as a revisionist historian in the Apocalypse Commentary (1329) of the Literal postil.1 To comment on the Apocalypse, the only prophetic book of the New Testament, he used and criticized the "order of history" (historical-linear) interpretations of two Franciscans, Alexander Minorita (d.1271) and a younger contemporary of Lyra, Peter Auriol (1280-1322).2 Alexander and Peter had both written lrThe following sources are of primary importance for biographical information about Lyra: Henri Labrosse, "Sources de la biographie de Nicolas de Lyre," Études franciscaines [henceforth EF] 16 (1906): 383-404; idem, "Biographie de Nicolas de Lyre," EF 17 (1907): 489-505, 593-608; idem, "Oeuvres de Nicolas de Lyre: sources bibliographiques," EF 19 (1908): 41-53, 153-76, 368-80; EF 35 (1923): 171-87, 400-32; Charles Langlois, "Nicolas de Lyre, Frère Mineur," Histoires Littéraire de la France 36 (1927): 356-57; Heinrich Rüthing, "Kritische Bemerkungen zu einer mittelalterlichen Biographie des Nikolaus von Lyra," Archivum Franciscanum Historicum 60 (1967): 42-54; Herman Hailperin, Rashi and the Christian Scholars (Pittsburg: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1963); Edward A. Gosselin, "Bibliographical Survey: A Listing of the Printed Editions of Nicolaus de Lyra," Traditio 26 (1970): 399-426 (see esp. Gosselin's lengthy bibliographical note on p. 399). See also, Klaus Reinhardt, "Das Werk des Nikolaus von Lyra im Mittelalterlichen Spanien," Traditio: Studies in Ancient and Medieval History, Thought, and Religion 43 (1987): 321-58. 2In the preface to his Apocalypse Commentary, Lyra writes that John foresaw all of Church history in his visions, from the time of the apostles to the end of the world. "Beatus vero Joannes in hoc libro prophetico describet tribulationes ecclesiae futuras a suo tempore usque ad finem mundi, secundum catholicos doctores. ..." (Preface to the Apocalypse, Antwerp [6, col. 1445]). According to Bernard McGinn, Lyra's contribution to the apocalyptic exegetical tradition was the popularization of this "linear prophetic reading of Revelation" precisely "correlating symbols and past events." The term "popularizer" is appropriate because Lyra was in no way the originator of the linear prophetic method of interpretation. See "Revelation," in The Literary Guide to the Bible, ed. Robert Alter and Frank Kermode (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987) 533-34). Alexander Minorita probably created this commentary genre, which interprets all of Church history as prophesied in the consecutive visions of the Apocalypse. A critical edition has been published: Alexander Minorita expositio in Apocalypsim, ed. Alois Wachtel, MGH, Quellen zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters, 1 (Weimar: Hermann Bohlaus, 1955; reprint Munich: MGH, 1983). See also, Helmut Hintz, Mittelalterliche Geschichtsanschauung und Eschatologie in einem Apokalypsenkommentar aus dem 13. Jahrhundert (Greifswald: H. Adler, 1915). For an extensive discussion of the development of Joachite influence on the different editions of Alexander Minorita's Expositio in Apocalypsim; see Sabine Franciscan Studies 52 (1992) 54 PHILIP D. KREY interpretive accounts of Church history while commenting on the Apocalypse.3 Nicholas's edition of 1329 represents an historiographical critique of these commentaries by Alexander (1235-1249) and by the more proximate model, Peter (1319).4 Schmolinsky, Der Alpokalypsen Kommentar des Alexander Minorita: Zurfrühen Rezeption Joachim von Fiore in Deutschland. Monumenta Germaniae Histórica, Studien und Texte (Hannover, Germany, 1991). 3Peter was a young Franciscan master at the University of Paris, a Conventual and a favorite of John XXII. His Literal Compendium of the Whole of Sacred Scripture became a standard textbook in the later Middle Ages. Peter Auriol's commentary on the Apocalypse comprises more than one third of his Compendium sensus litteralis totius sacrae Scripturae, edited by Phillberto Seeboeck, O.F.M (Quaracchi: Collegium S. Bonaventurae, 1896). For a discussion of Auriol's Apocalypse Commentary see Ernst Benz, Ecclesia spiritualis (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1934) 432-72. See also David Burr, "Mendicant Readings of the Apoclypse," in The Apocalypse in the Middle Ages, edited by Richard Emmerson and Bernard McGinn. See also, Noël Valois, "Pierre d'Aureoli," Histoire littéraire de la France 33 (1906): 479-528. For Auriol's importance for the latter Middle Ages see Katharine H. Tachau, Vision and...


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