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Paul of Burgos

A Spanish archbishop, lord chancellor and exegete, b. at Burgos about 1351; d. Aug. 29, 1435

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Paul of Burgos (PAUL DE SANTA MARIA; Jewish name, SOLOMON HA-LEVI), a Spanish archbishop, lord chancellor and exegete, b. at Burgos about 1351; d. August 29, 1435. He was the most wealthy and influential Jew of Burgos, a scholar of the first rank in Talmudic and rabbinical literature, and a Rabbi of the Jewish community. The irresistible logic of the Summa of St. Thomas led him to the Faith of Christ. He received Baptism, July 21, 1390. His brothers Pedro Suarez and Alvar Garcia, together with his daughter and four boys, aged from three to twelve years, were baptized with him. His wife Joanna died a Jewess shortly after. Paul de Santa Maria, as he was called, spent some years at the University of Paris, where he took his degree of doctor in theology. His sincerity, keen insight into human nature, thorough education, and soul-stirring eloquence marked him out as a prominent churchman of the future. In 1405 he became Bishop of Cartagena; in 1415, Archbishop of Burgos. In 1416 King Henry of Castile named him lord chancellor. After the king’s death Archbishop Paul was a member of the council which ruled Castile in the name of the regent Dona Catalina, and by the will of the deceased king he was tutor to the heir to the throne—later John II of Castile. The published writings of Archbishop Paul were:—(I) “Dialogus Pauli et Sauli contra Judos, sive Scrutinium scripturarum” (Mantua, 1475; Mainz, 1478; Paris, 1507, 1535; Burgos, 1591). (2) “Additions” to the “Postilla” of Nicholas of Lyra (Nuremberg, 1481; 1485; 1487, etc.; Venice, 1481, 1482, etc.). It is chiefly on the latter work that Paul’s reputation as an exegete rests. The “Additiones” were originally mere marginal notes written in a volume of the “Postilla” which he sent to his son Alfonso. Their publication aroused Matthias During, the provincial of the Saxon Franciscans, to publish his “Replicae”, a bitter rejection of almost half of the 1100 suggestions and additions Paul had made. The converted Jew was superior to Nicholas of Lyra in Hebrew, but not in Biblical interpretations; in fact, Paul erred in not admitting an inspired allegorical meaning of Holy Writ, prejudiced against it, no doubt, by the extravagance of Talmudic allegorical fancies. (3) “De nomine divino quaestiones duodecim” (Utrecht, 1707). These tracts are excerpts from the “Additiones” in regard to Exod., iii, and are joined to the scholia of J. Drusius on the correct pronunciation of the name of Jahweh. Archbishop Paul was succeeded in the See of Burgos by his second son, Alfonso.


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