Clerc, Le (Clericus), Jean

Clerc, Le (Clericus), Jean, a learned critic and theologian, was born at Geneva March 19, 1657. He studied theology at his native town, and in 1679 passed a brilliant examination for admission into the ministry of Geneva, but had before this fallen out with strict Calvinism, chiefly under the influence of the Saumur theses (Syntagma thesium theol. Salmurii. 1655), and the writings of his grand-uncle Curcellaeus and of Episcopius. As early as 1679 he published a pseudonymous work on the difference between strict Calvinists and Remonstrants, in favor of the latter (Liberii de sancto amore epistolce theologicae, Saumur, 1679). In 1682 he openly joined the Remonstrants, and in 1684 the Rotterdam Synod gave to him the professorship of philosophy and ancient languages at the Arminian college of Amsterdam. Here he at once began to exhibit his marvelous literary activity. After publishing some exegetical treatises of his uncle David le Clerc, and his father Stephen le Clerc, and a dogmatical treatise on predestination, and the nature and limits of human knowledge (Entretiens sur diverses matieres de thiologie, Amsterdam, 1685), he attracted general attention by his literary controversy with the learned oratorian Richard Simon (Origeni Adamantino Critobulus Hieropolitanus, 1684, pseudonym.; Sentimins sur l' hist. critique du V. T. composee par le P. R. Simon,. Amsterd. 1685, and Defence des Sentimens, etc. Amsterd. 1685). In the same year he established with F. Cornand de la Croze a literary journal, under the title Bibliotheque universelle et historique, which, besides reviews and extracts from new books, contains many essays by Le Clerc (25 vols. 1686-1693). He also took an active part in the publication of the four editions of Moreri's Dictionnaire (4 vols. fol. 1691-1702). He defended Episcopius against the charge of Socinianism (Lettre a M. Jurieu sur la maniere dont il a traite Episcopius, 1690), and translated three works of Burnet into French, and part of the history of ancient philosophy by Th. Stanley into Latin. From 1692-1695 he wrote several compends of philosophy (Opera philosophica, 4 vols. 1698; later editions contain a 5th volume, with a life of the author). In 1693 he began the publication of his Latin translation of and commentary on the Old Testament (Genesis, 1693; the four last books of the Pentateuch, 1696; the other historical books, 1708; the remainder, 1731), in which he developed some latitudinarian views on Biblical miracles and scriptural interpretation. In 1696 he published his Ars Critica (2 vols. Amsterd.), one of his most important works, of which the Epistole Critica et Ecclesiasticae (1700, against Cave) are a continuation. He translated into Latin and added valuable notes to Hammond's New Testament (1698, 2 vols. fol.; 2d edit. Frankfort, 1714), and in the same year published a new edition of the Patres Apostolici by Cotelier, with notes and additions (Amsterd. 1698; 2d ed. 1724). A work against some anti-Christian views in Bayle's Dictionary (Parrhasiana, Amsterd. 1699) involved him in a controversy with Bayle which lasted until the death of the latter. He prepared an appendix to the Amsterdam reprint of the Maurine edition of the works of St. Augustine (Appendix Augustiniana, Amsterd. 1703); published a French translation of the New Test. (Amsterd. 1703, 2 vols.), with notes, which again brought him into the suspicion of Socinianism, and published new editions, with notes, of Petavius, De theologicis dogmatibus (6 vols. fol. Amsterd. 1700), and doctrina temporum (Amsterd. 1703, 3 vols. fol.), of the complete works of Erasmus of Rotterdam (Lugd. Bat. 10 vols. fol. 1703-6), of Hugo Grotius, De Veritate Religionis Christianae (Amsterd. 1709), and of many others. He also continued his literary journal under the title Bibliotheque chosie (1703-13, 27 vols.). In 1 12, on the death of Limborch, he was appointed his successor as professor of Church History at the college of Amsterdam. His new office induced him to write a Church History of the first two centuries (Hist. Eccles. duorum prim. saec., Amsterd. 1716). He also prepared several editions of Latin and Greek classics, a history of the Netherlands, and carried on a very extensive correspondence with scholars in various countries. In 1728 he suddenly lost, in consequence of a paralytic stroke, the use of language, and, to a large extent, his memory, and his condition became still worse after a new attack in 1732. He died January 8, 1736. Le Clerc was one of the most prolific writers of modern times, but more critical than productive. Though always in ecclesiastical communion with the Remonstrants, he undoubtedly leaned towards Socinianism. See Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 2, 630 sq.; Herzog, Real- Encyklop. 2, 756; Ersch u. Gruber, Encyklop. vol. 18, s.v.

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