Cotelerius, John Baptist

, B. D. of Sorbonne, and king’s Greek professor, was born at Nismes, in Languedoc, in 1627. He made an extraordinary proficiency in the languages under his father, when very young: for being, at twelve years only, brought into the hall of the general assembly of the French clergy held at Mante in 1641, he construed the New Testament in Greek, and the Old in Hebrew, at the first opening of the book. He unfolded, at the same time, several difficulties proposed in regard to the peculiar construction of the Hebrew language; and explained also the text from the customs practised among the Jews. After this, he demonstrated certain mathematical propositions, in explaining Euclid’s definitions. This made him looked upon as a prodigy of genius; and his reputation rose as he advanced in life. In 1643 he took the degree of M. A.; B. D. in 1647; and was elected a fellow of the Sorbonne in 1.649. In 1651 he lost his father, who died at Paris, whither he had come to reside with his children in 1638; and he lamented him much, as a parent who had taken the greatest pains in his education. This appears from a letter of Cotelerius to his father, in which he says, “I must necessarily be obedient in every respect to you, to whom, besides innumerable benefits and favours, I owe not only my life, but also the means of living well and happily, those seeds of virtue and learning which you have been careful to plant in me from my infancy. Now, if Alexander of Macedon could own himself so much indebted to his father Philip for begetting him, and so much more to Aristotle for forming and educating him, what ought not I to acknowledge myself indebted to you, who have been both a Philip and an Aristotle to me?

In 1654, when the archbishop of Embrun retired into his diocese, he took Cotelerius along with him, as one who would be an agreeable companion in his solitude, and with him he remained four years; but afterwards, when he returned to Paris, complained heavily of the want of books | and conversation with learned men in that retreat. He do dined going into orders, and spent his time wholly in ecclesiastical antiquity. The Greek fathers were his chief study, whose works he read, both in print and manuscript, with great exactness; made notes upon them, and translated some of them into Latin. In 1660 he published “Four homilies of St. Chrysostom upon the Psalms,” and his “Commentary upon Daniel,” with a Latin translation and notes. He then commenced his “Collection of those Fathers who lived in the apostolic age;” which he published in two vois. folio, at Paris, 1672, reviewed and corrected from several manuscripts, with a Latin translation and notes. The editor’s notes, which are learned and curious, explain the difficulties in the Greek terms, clear up several historical passages, and set matters of doctrine and discipline in a perspicuous light. He would have published this work some years sooner, but was interrupted by being appointed, with Du Cange, to review the Mss. in the king’s library. This task he entered upon by Colbert’s order in 1667, and it occupied his time for five years.

In 1676 he was made Greek professor in the royal academy at Paris, which post he maintained during his life with the highest reputation. He had the year before produced the first volume of a work entitled “Monumenta Ecclesia? Graccce,” a collection of Greek tracts out of the king’s and Colbert’s libraries, never published before. He added a Latin translation and notes; which, though not so large as those upon the “Patres Apostolici,” are said to be very curious. The first volume was printed in 1675, the second in 1681, and the third in 1686; and he intended to have added others, if he had lived. His age was not great, but his constitution was broken with intense study: for he took vast pains in his learned performances, writing all the Greek text and the version on the side with his own hand, and using the greatest care and exactness in all his quotations, Aug. 3, 1686, he was seized with an inflammatory disorder in his breast, which required him to be let blood: but he had such a dislike to this operation, that, sooner than undergo it, he dissembled his illness. At last, however, he consented; but it was too late; for he died the 10th of the same month, when he was not 60 years of age, leaving nine folio volumes of Mss. now in the Imperial library, consisting of extracts from the fathers, &c. with notes. | Besides his great skill in the languages, and in ecclesiastical antiquity, he was remarkable for his probity and candour. He was modest and unpretending, without the least tincture of stiffness and pride. He lived particularly retired, made and received few visits; and thus, having but little acquaintance, he appeared somewhat melancholy and reserved, but was in reality of a frank, conversable, and friendly temper. 1


Moreri. -—Dict. Hist. Life by Baluze, prefixed to the edition of the Patres Apostolici, 1724. —Saxii Onomasticon.