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Arthur-Marie Le Hir
Biblical scholar and Orientalist; b. at Morlaix (Finisterre), in the Diocese of Quimper, France, 5 Dec., 1811; d. at Paris, 13 Jan., 1868. Entering the seminary of St. Sulpice, Paris, in 1833, he joincd the Sulpicians after ordination, and was appointed professor of theology. He was then made professor of Sacred Scripture and also of Hebrew, to which branches he had been thoroughly formed by Gamier, a scholar, says Renan, "who had a very solid knowledge of languages and the most complete knowledge of exegesis of any Catholic in France" (Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse, 269). Le Hir continued in this teaching till his death, about thirty years later, and through his own work and that of his pupil, Renan, he influenced powerfully the revival of Biblical and Oriental studies in France. Renan regarded him as the best Hebrew and Syriac scholar of France in his generation, and one, moreover, who was thoroughly versed in Biblical science, including the current German works thereon, whose theories he exposed and strongly combatted. Some lay to his uncompromising attitude the defection of Renan, which was so harmful to religion in France. He was as eminent in sanctity and modesty as in science, and no doubt this contributed to the extraordinary impression he left upon his intimates, which his writings (partly because they are chiefly posthumous) fail to produce. Most students of his books would hesitate about accepting Renan's judgment, that he "was certainly the most remarkable man in the French clergy of our day" (op. cit., 273). Le Hir published only a few articles, which, along with others, were collected, after his death, in the two volumes entitled "Etudes Bibliques", Paris, 1869. This work shows him at his best, in the range and solidity of his acquirements, and in the breadth of his views. His other writings, all posthumous, and not left by him ready for the press, are studies in the translation and exegesis of certain Biblical works: "Le Livre de Job" (Paris, 1873); "Les Psaumes" (Paris, 1876); "Les trois Grands ProphËtes Isaie Jérémie, Ezéchiel" (Paris, 1876); "Le Cantique des Cantiques" (Paris, 1888).
BERTRAND, Bibliothèque Sulpicienne, II (Paris, 1900), with a lengthy description of Le Hir's writings and references to articles concerning him cf. IDEM in VIG., Dict. de la Bible s. v.; RENAN, Souvenirs d'en d enfance et de jeunesse (Paris, 1883)221, 269, 274, 288; IDEM in Journal Asiatique, XIJ (Paris, 1568), 19; JULES SIMON Quatre Portraits (Paris, 1896), containing the reminscences --evidently mistaken-- of a pretended judgment of Renan upon Le Hir, totally at variance with that given in the Souvenirs and Journal Asiatique.
JOHN F. FENLON