ISIDORE OF SEVILLE: Isidore, archbishop of Seville and encyclopedist, was born about 560, the place unknown; d. at Seville, Spain, 1 Apr. 4, 636. He was a scion of a distinguished Roman family which had fled from Carthagena during the Gothic invasion, and was educated, after the death of his parents, by his brother Leander, whom he succeeded, apparently about 600, as archbishop of Seville. He attended the synod held by King Gundemar in 610, and presided over those held by King Sisebut at Seville in 619 and the famous Fourth Synod of Toledo under Sisenand in 633 (see TOLEDO, SYNODS OF).
Isidore's chief importance, however, was as an author, and his learning embraced the entire range possible in his age and country. 2 Neither originality nor independent investigation, neither keen criticism nor elegance of presentation could be expected from him, but his manifold interest, reading, and diligence in collecting, excerpting, and compiling from all departments of theological and secular learning are unparalleled. His position in history is determined primarily by two works, the Libri sententiarum, the first dogmatics of the Latin Church, sad the Etymologiae, the source of linguistic and practical knowledge for centuries, so that he became the schoolmaster of the Middle Ages. Gradually he became the national hero of the Spanish Church, and to him were attributed the Old Spanish or Mozarabic liturgy, the collection of Spanish canons upon which was based the forgery of the pseudo-Isidore, and even the collection of the laws of the West Gothic kings. The Roman Catholic Church, despite the weakness of the bonds which then united Spain and Rome, holds that he was a pupil of Gregory the Great, that he was vicar-apostolic in Spain, received the pallium, and took part in a Roman synod. Yet it is quite possible that he did not recognize the council of 553, and that he treated Justinian merely as a heretic who sought to overthrow the Chalcedonian Creed; while he did not mention the papacy in his ecclesiastical handbook, and he was even slightly heterodox in his views of the sacraments and grace.
The works of Isidore are thus enumerated according to a list by Braulio (in MPL, lxxxi. 15 sqq.), which seems, in the main, to follow 3 chronological order: (1) Prooemiorum liber unus, an introduction to the Bible, consisting of a brief prologue on the canon in general and short tables of contents of the individual books. (2) De ortu et obitu patrum, or De vita et morte sanctorum utriusque Testamenti, short biographies of eighty-five characters of the Bible, sixty-four from the Old Testament and twenty-one from the New. The authenticity of the work has been doubted, but without sufficient reason. (3) Officiorum libri duo; usually called De officiis ecclesiasticis, written about 610, one of the most important works of Isidore for theology and ecclesiastical archeology. The first book, entitled De origine officiorum, discusses the origin and the authors of ecclesiastical worship, while the second, De origine ministeriorum, is devoted to the duties of the orders of clergy and various estates in life. (4) De nominibus legis et evangeliorum liber, evidently identical with the Allegoriae quaedam sanctae scripturae of the manuscripts and editions, and containing an allegorical interpretation of 129 names and passages from the Old Testament and 121 from the New. The work is of great value for the art and literature of the Middle Ages. (5) De haeresibus liber, which is probably identical with the list of Jewish and Christian heresies given in the fourth and fifth chapters of the eighth book of the Etymologiae. (6) Sententiarum libri tres, the chief theological work of its author, and the first Latin compend of faith and morals, chiefly in excerpts from Augustine and Gregory the Great. The first book is dogmatic in content, and treats of such subjects as the qualities of God, the origin of evil, the soul, and Christ, the seven rules of exegesis, the difference between the Testaments, creeds, baptism, the sacrament, and eschatology (but with no mention of purgatory). The second and third books are ethical the former general and the latter special. The first discusses, among other subjects, the cardinal virtues, grace, election, conversion, backsliding,
In addition to the works already enumerated, Isidore is said to have written many smaller treatises, and others still have been ascribed to him, such as the Quaestiones de Veteri et Novo Testamento and the De ordine creaturarum, De contemptu mundi, and an interpretation of the Song of Solomon. A number of Latin poems are ascribed to him, but with little warrant, and hymns to Agatha and other martyrs are included among the Mozarabic hymns. Several of his letters are still extant, and contain much of biographical and contemporary interest.
Lists of literature are given in C. U. J.
Chevalier, Sources historiques du moyan-âge, p. 1127 Paris,
1877 sqq.; J. E. B. Mayor, Bibliographical Clue to Latin
Literature, p. 212, London, 1875; Potthast, Wegweiser,
pp. 687-689. The best edition of his works is by F.
Arevali, 7 vols., Rome, 1797-1803, reproduced in MPL,
lxxxi.-lxxxiv. Others are by M. de La Bigne, Paris, 1580;
J. de Breul and J. Grial, Paris, 1601; by Grial and Gomez,
Madrid, 1778. Consult: N. Antonio, Bibliotheca Hispana
vetus, ed. P. Bayer, Madrid, 1788; J. C. F. Bahr, Geschichte
der römischen Literatur, supplement, i. 111-113, Carlsruhe,
1838; C. E. Bourret, L'ÉcoIe chrétienne de Seville, pp. 59-193, Paris, 1855; C. F. Montalembert, Les Moines de
l'occident, ii. 200-218, 5 vols., Paris, 1860-67, Eng, transl.,
i. 421-424, Boston, 1872; P. Gams, Kirchengeschichte
Spaniens, ii. 2, pp. 102-113, Regensburg, 1874; H. Hertzberg, Die Historien und Chroniken des Isidorus von Sevilla,
Göttingen, 1874; Wattenbach, DGQ, i (1885), 81-83,
i (1893), 84-86; A. Ebert, Geschichte der Literatur des
Mittelalters, i. 588-602, Leipsic, 1889; W. Smith, Dictionary
of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, ii. 627-630,
London, 1890; W. S. Teuffel, Geschichte der römischen
Literatur, pp 1292-1295, Leipsic, 1890; C. Cañal, San
lsidoro, Seville, 1897; Ceillier, Auteurs sacrés, xi. 710-728
Neander, Christian Church, iii. 151-153 et passim; Schaff,
Christian Church, iv. 662-669 et passim; KL, vi. 969-976;
DCB, iii. 305-313. The first two volumes of the edition
of his works by Arevali gather up the various accounts of
the life and add critical comments.
2 His Influence and Importance.
3 His Writings.
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