CAPPEL (CAPPELLUS): A French family which produced many noteworthy statesmen and scholars between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as three theologians, Louis Cappel the Elder, Jacques Cappel the Third, and Louis Cappel the Younger.

1. Louis Cappel the Elder: Reformed theologian; b. at Paris Jan. 15, 1534; d. at Sédan Jan. 6, 1586. Despite the early death of his father, he received an excellent education, and in his twenty-second year went to Bordeaux to study law, but before long accepted a professorship of Greek. Becoming acquainted with certain of the Reformers, he was converted to their doctrines, and went to study theology at Geneva, where Calvin controlled the Church. Returning to Paris about 1560, he won the confidence of his coreligionists by his zeal for the interests of the Reformed, and was finally ordained pastor. He officiated successively at Meaux, Antwerp, and Clermont, but the constant outbreak of disturbances rendered any continuous activity impossible, and he was repeatedly obliged to retire to Sédan, where he was safe, since it lay in the duchy of Bouillon. In 1575 he was appointed professor of theology at the University of Leyden, but was recalled in the following year to France and made preacher and professor of theology at Sédan, holding these positions until his death.

2. Jacques Cappel the Third: Nephew of the preceding; b. at Rennes Mar., 1570; d. at Sédan Sept. 7, 1624. After completing his theological education at Sédan, he went in 1593 to his ancestral estate le Tilloi, where he preached for several years. In 1599 he accepted a call to Sédan as professor of Hebrew, and eleven years later was appointed professor of theology. His learning, piety, and charity won him high esteem. Among his numerous works special mention may be made of his Observationes in selecta Pentateuchi loca (ed. J. Cappel, in his Commentarii et notœ criticœ in Vetus Testamentum, Amsterdam, 1689) and his Historia sacra et exotica ab Adamo usque ad Augusti ortum (Sédan,1612).

3. Louis Cappel the Younger: Youngest brother of the preceding; b. at St. Élier (a village near Sédan) Oct. 15, 1585; d. at Saumur June 18, 1658. His father, Jacques Cappel the Younger, who had been a parliamentary counselor at Rennes, had been forced to resign on account of his conversion to the Reformed Church and had been driven by the adherents of the League from his estates of le Tilloi. During his flight to his brother Louis Cappel the Elder at Sédan, his son was born and named for his uncle. After his father's death in 1586, the boy was taken by his mother to le Tilloi, where he was educated by Roman Catholics until his brother Jacques Cappel took him from their charge. He then studied theology in Sédan, and in 1609 received from the church in Bordeaux the means to study four years in England, Belgium, and Germany. On his return he was appointed professor of Hebrew at Saumur, but in 1621 the war forced him to take refuge with his brother at Sédan, where he remained three years. In 1626 he became professor of theology, and through him, together with Moïse Amyraut and Josué de la Place, Saumur attained high fame. Of his five sons two died in early youth, the eldest, Jean, became a convert to the Roman Catholic Church, and the youngest, Jacques the Fourth, when eighteen years of age succeeded his father as professor of Hebrew at Saumur. Louis Cappel was a man of piety, sincerity, courage, energy, and learning. His life-work was devoted to the study of the history of the text of the Old Testament and the refutation of false views concerning it. His first book, Arcanum punctationis revelatum, was completed in 1623, and sought to prove that the Hebrew punctuation did not originate with Moses and the other Biblical authors, but had been introduced by Jewish scholars after the completion of the Babylonian Talmud. The novelty of the book is not its assertion, but its logical proof. The work was sent by its author to various scholars for their opinions, but while Buxtorf at Basel counseled caution, Erpenius at Leyden had it printed anonymously on his own responsibility in 1624. The book found a friendly reception in many quarters, but twenty years later Buxtorf's son attacked the author bitterly in his Tractatus de punctorum origine (Basel, 1648). Cappel replied with his Vindiciœ arcani punctationis, although it first appeared thirty years after his death in the Commentarii et notæ criticœ in Vetus Testamentum edited by his son, Jacques Cappel the Fourth (Amsterdam, 1689). His second famous work was the Critica sacra (Paris, 1650), based on the theory of the integrity of the text and completed in 1634, although it remained unprinted for many years on account of the opposition of the Protestants in Geneva, Leyden, and Sédan. The work is divided into six books with the following subjects: parallel passages in the Old Testament; citations from the Old Testament in the New; the various readings of the keri and kethibh, the manuscripts of the Oriental and Occidental Jews, printed Bibles, and the Masoretic and Samaritan texts of the Pentateuch; deviations in the Septuagint from the Masoretic text; variants in other ancient translations, the Talmud, and early Jewish writings; the choice of readings and the restoration of the original text. Cappel was obliged to meet repeated attacks. Even when his work first appeared, it contained a defense against the younger Buxtorf, who had learned the contents of the book before it was printed, and had combated it in the Tractatus already mentioned. Certain passages which had been omitted in the original edition against his will were added by Cappel in his Epistola apologetica (Saumur, 1651), another work in his own defense. A new edition of the Critica


sacra was prepared by G. J. L. Vogel and J. G. Scharfenberg (3 vols., Halle, 1775-86). His third important writing was the Diatriba de veris et antiquis Hebrœorum literis (Amsterdam, 1645), in which he proved the priority of the Samaritan script over the square characters and thus refuted the treatise of the younger Buxtorf, De litterarum Hebraicarum genuina antiquitate (1643). In these writings Cappel discussed problems which were of the utmost importance to the Protestants in their controversy with the Roman Catholics. Of his opponents the younger Buxtorf was the most important, and had practically all the theologians of Germany and Switzerland on his side, while many prominent scholars of France, England, and Holland defended the views of Cappel. The first sentences of the Helvetic Consensus Formula of 1675 are directed against Cappel, the greater number of the rest being aimed at Amyraut. In later times a fairer and calmer judgment prevailed concerning the investigations of Cappel, and his results are now generally accepted. A list of his printed and unprinted works is given by his son Jacques in the Commentarii noted above. Special mention may also be made of his Templi Hierosolymitani delineatio triplex and Chronologia sacra both contained in Walton's Polyglot), as well as of his Historia apostolica illustrata (Geneva, 1634). [His Pivot de la foi et religion (Saumur, 1643) was translated into English by P. Marinel (London, 1660).]


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Nicéron, Mémoires, vol. xxii.; Biographie universelle, vii. 75-80, Paris, 1813; I. A. Dorner, Geschichte der protestantischen Theologie, pp. 450 sqq., Munich, 1867, Eng, transl., Edinburgh, 1880; L. Diestel, Geschichte des Alten Testaments in der christlichen Kirche, pp. 336 sqq., 346 sqq., Jena, 1868; G. Schnedermann, Die Controverse des L. Cappellus mit den Buxtorfen, Leipsic, 1878; C. A. Briggs, Study of Holy Scripture, pp. 222 sqq., New York, 1899.


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