In an age when doctors of the Church were given distinctive titles, Nicholas of Lyra’s title was the Doctor planus et utilis, “the clear and useful doctor.” It was a fitting sobriquet. The scholar, the preacher, the friar often sought a handy, up-to-date reference book to unlock the meaning of a scriptural passage. And there, from the early fourteenth to the late seventeenth century, were the commentaries of Nicholas of Lyra. Verse by verse, scholarly yet employing simple Latin, offering alternate translations, always going out of his way to be understood, Lyra tried to be of service to his readers. Planus et utilis indeed!
Today Lyra is largely unknown. But things may be changing. A new generation of scholars is showing interest in medieval biblical commentaries, often assessing their impact on Reformation thinking and writing. Such individuals should find the present volume helpful. Besides this, the sheer fact that this volume makes available a medieval Latin text with accompanying translation may arouse the interest of scholars, students, and a general audience in this area of medieval studies, as well as in Lyra specifically. This is our hope.— From the Preface by James Kiecker