Paulus, Burgensis, or De Santa Maria

Paulus, Burgensis, Or De Santa Maria a noted Christian convert from Judaism, whose original name was rabbi Solomon Levi, was born about 1352, and flourished at Burgos. Until his fortieth year he was a teacher among the Jews, eminent alike for birth and learning. At that age he became acquainted with the writings of Thomas Aquinas, whose treatise De Legibus made so deep an impression upon his mind that his national prejudices against Christianity fell to the ground, and he finally embraced Christianity. In the year 1392 he received baptism, together with his four sons, then young children, but who all in after-life inherited their father's high character and great celebrity. His wife was already dead, but his mother and his brothers followed his example, by making public profession of their faith in Christ. He now devoted himself as assiduously to the study of Christian theology as he had before done to that of the Jews. He obtained the degree of doctor of divinity at Paris, and preached at Avignon, to a very numerous audience, in the presence of Peter de Luna, afterwards pope Benedict XIII, and then one of the candidates for the papacy. Paulus was made archdeacon of Burgos, bishop of Carthagena, and, lastly, bishop of Burgos, a dignity to which his son succeeded during his father's lifetime. All Spanish historians and chroniclers are unanimous in their praises of this descendant of the house of Israel, both as a bishop and statesman, to which latter position (as high chancellor) he was appointed by king Henry III, who even entrusted to him the education of his son and successor, John II. The historians generally style him the excellent — "el varon excellente" — and speak of him as "a man able to govern his tongue, and in all ways well calculated to guide and advise kings." Paulus Burgensis died in the year 1435, on a journey which he made to visit the different churches of his diocese, although the bishopric itself had already passed to his son Alphonso. His indefatigable activity as a student and expounder of Scripture is attested by his writings, of which two, in particular, deserve our notice: his Additions to the Postilla of Nicholas de Lyra (q.v.), and his Scrutinium Scripturarum. The latter is of the later date, although published first, and contains, in the form of a dialogue between Paul and Saul, a refutation of Jewish objections to the Christian faith. The introduction, in which the venerable bishop dedicates his work on the whole Bible to his son Don Alphonso of Carthagena, at that time archdeacon of Compostella; affords us an insight into his character and private feelings. He speaks of his own blindness and incredulity, and how he was called from darkness to light, and from the depth of the pit to the open air of heaven. He gives his son the experience of his past life in order that what he has not seen with his eyes may yet be engraven on his memory as coming from the lips of his father, that in his turn he may tell to those who are younger than himself; and they to their descendants, not to forget the works of the Lord, nor cease from the study of his holy Word. He continued to labor at it in his old age, and had the satisfaction of finishing it a little before his death. It is chiefly intended to bring conviction to his former coreligionists, and for that purpose is filled with striking passages in support of the Christian faith, quoted from rabbinical writers, giving their views of the person, the distinguishing characteristics, and the promised kingdom of Messiah. That the bishop was not only sincere in his convictions, but also in his zeal for the Church and the conversion of his former coreligionists, cannot be denied, but the more remarkable is the malicious manner in which the Jewish historian Gritz speaks of this convert. See Furst, Bibl. Jud. 1:137; Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, 8:84 sq.; Da Costa, Israel and the Gentiles, p. 313-326; Kalkar, Israel u. die Kirche, p. 29 sq.; Basnage, Hist. des Juis, p. 691 (Taylor's English transl.); Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. 3:901 sq.; Schudt, Jiidische Merkwiirdigkeifen, 4:291; Kitto, Cyclop. s.v.; Colomesius, Italia et Hispan. Orient. p. 231; Kayserling, Sephardim, p. 61 sq.; Antonii Bibl. veterum Hispan. 2:157 sq.; Fabricius, Delectus argumentorum et syllabus scriptorum, etc., p. 575 sq. (Hamburg, 1752); Schmucker, Hist. of the Modern Jews (Phila. 1867), p. 167 sq.; De Castro, Hist. of the Jews in Spain (Engl. transl. by Kirwan, Lond. 1851), p. 105 sq.; Pick, in the Evang. Rev. July, 1876, p. 35 sq., and reprinted in the Jewish Intelligencer (Lond. Nov. 1876); Diestel, Geschichte des A Ilen Testaments in der christl. Kirche (Jena, 1869), p. 199, 201; Simon, Hist. Crit. etc. (Rotterdam, 1685), p. 415 sq.; Delitzsch, Wissenschaft, Kunst u. Judenthum, p. 128 sq.; Margoliouth, The Hebrews in East Anglia (Lolnd. 1870), p. 57 sq. (B. P.)

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