Michel Le Quien

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Michel Le Quien (Boulogne-sur-Mer, 8 October 1661 – Paris, 12 March 1733) was a French historian and theologian. He studied at Plessis College, Paris, and at twenty entered the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where he made his profession in 1682. Excepting occasional short absences he never left Paris. At the time of his death he was librarian of the convent in Rue Saint-Honoré, a position which he had filled almost all his life, lending assistance to those who sought information on theology and ecclesiastical antiquity. Under the supervision of Père Marsollier he mastered the classical languages, Arabic, and Hebrew, to the detriment, it seems, of his mother-tongue.

His chief works, in chronological order, are:

  • Défense du texte hébreu et de la version vulgate (Paris, 1690), reprinted in Migne, Scripturae Sacrae Cursus, III (Paris 1861), 1525-84. It is an answer to L'antiquité des temps rétablie by the Cistercian Paul Pezron (1638–1706), who took the text of the Septuagint as sole basis for his chronology. Pezron replied, and was again answered by Le Quien.
  • Johannis Damasceni opera omnia Greek text with Latin translation (2 vols. fol., Paris, 1712) in Migne Patrologia Graeca, XCIV-VI. To this fundamental edition he added excellent dissertations; a third volume, which was to have contained other works of the great Damascene and various studies on him, was never completed.
  • Panoplia contra schisma Graecorum, under the pseudonym of Stephanus de Altimura Ponticencis (Paris, 1718), a refutation of the Peri arches tou Papa of Patriarch Nectarius of Jerusalem, Le Quien maintained, with historical proofs derived chiefly from the Orient, the primacy of the pope.
  • La nullité des ordinations anglicanes (2 vols., Paris, 1725), and La nullité des ordinationes anglicanes démontrée de nouveau (2 vols., Paris, 1730), against Pierre François le Courayer's apology for Anglican Orders.
  • Various articles on archaeology and ecclesiastical history, published by Desmolets (Paris, 1726–31).
  • Oriens christianus in quatuor patriarchatus digestus, in quo exhibentur Ecclesiae patriarchae caeterique praesules totius Orientis, published posthumously (3 vols., Paris, 1740). Le Quien contemplated issuing this work as early as 1722, and had made a contract with the printer Simart (Revue de l'Orient latin, 1894, II, 190). In editing it, he used the notes of the Benedictine Abel-Louis de Sainte-Marthe, who had projected an "Orbis Christianus", and had obligingly handed him over his notes on the Orient and Africa. The "Oriens Christianus", as projected by Le Quien, was to comprise not only the hierarchy of the four Greek and Latin patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and that of the Jacobite, Melkite, Nestorian, Maronite, and Armenian patriarchates, but also the Greek and Latin texts of the various Notitiae episcopatuum, a catalogue of the Eastern and African monasteries, and also the hierarchy of the African Church. The last three parts of this gigantic project were set aside by Le Quien's literary heirs. His notes on Christian Africa and its monasteries have never been used at least in their entirety.
  • "Abrégé de l'histoire de Boulogne-sur-Mer et ses comtes" in Desmolets, "Mémoires de littérature", X (Paris, 1749), 36-112.

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