Dominicans and the Word of God

Excerpt from the article “Dominican Thought,” by Fr. Allan White, O.P., The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought (Oxford, 2000) 175-77.

Reliable versions of the sacred texts are indispensable to the preacher. Hugh of St. Cher (1200-63) drew up one of the first concordances of the Vulgate and composed other works relating to biblical textual study. Nicholas of Gorran (1232-95) followed by preparing a series of influential scriptural commentaries. Albert the Great always insisted on working on the best texts available, while Aquinas’s scriptural commentaries are a major and unappreciated part of his oeuvre. Sixteenth-century concern for the integrity of texts was expressed in the Bible translation of Santes Pagninus (d. 1356), whose fidelity to the original caused some anxiety to his contemporaries.

The 19th-century Dominican, Marie Joseph Lagrange (1855-1938), was among the first Catholic scholars to engage with biblical higher criticism, establishing the École Pratique d’Études Bibliques at Jerusalem in 1890, and two years later the Revue biblique. Despite being suspected of modernism at the outset of the 20th century, he was able to present a case for the reconciliation of critical methods of interpretation with the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. His work influenced papal encyclicals on Sacred Scripture and the Decree on Revelation of Vatican II.