Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kenneth G. Hagen

Second Advisor

Keith J. Egan

Third Advisor

Joseph T. Lienhard

Fourth Advisor

John F.X. Sheehan

Fifth Advisor

William J. Kelly


Much is unknown about the history of biblical exegesis in the Middle Ages. Students of that period still speak in generalities -- some centuries are characterized by "spiritual" interpretation, other centuries by "literal" interpretation, still other centuries are called transitional. The exegetical writings of only a few of the major figures of that period -- Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas -- have been explored, and most writings are not even readily available. For other figures, generalities and half-truths are the order of the day. About even such an individual as Nicholas of Lyra -- by no means an insignificant one -- much unclarity exists. We are told he followed a "literal" interpretation of Scripture. But what is meant by "literal" in this context? And what is Lyra's connection to his predecessors and his successors?

This study aims to take a close look at Nicholas of Lyra, to uncover his hermeneutical principles, to observe his exegetical methods as exemplified in a small portion of his writings, to get at his notion of literalness particularly, and to set him in his historical context. To this end we have translated and commented on several important portions of his corpus, and have also made the Latin texts available in appendices, though the serious student will still consult the early printed editions or manuscripts where possible. If we succeed in pulling back the veil from Lyra, and by extension from the whole period, by only a little, we will feel satisfied.



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