This work is a translation from Latin into English of St. Lawrence of Brindisi’s commentary on the first three chapters of Genesis.
Fr. Victor Warkulwiz, M.S.S. has edited a translation of St. Lawrence’s commentary on the first three chapters of Genesis in his Explanatio in Genesim (Explanation of Genesis), which is the third volume of his complete works as compiled by a commission of Capuchin Fathers. Explanation of Genesis is a commentary on the first eleven chapters of Genesis, excluding chapter ten which is strictly genealogical. The translation from Latin into English and transliterations from Hebrew and Greek letters into Roman letters were done by Craig Toth.
This volume, which is entitled St. Lawrence of Brindisi on Creation and the Fall, is intended to be an informative work for the liberally educated Catholic layman and not a critical edition for scholars. The translation is colloquial rather than scholarly literal to make it agreeable to the modern ear. It is intended to show how genuine Catholic exegesis of Genesis should proceed. That does not mean that everything St. Lawrence says is necessarily accurate. He was limited, like we are, by the sciences of his time. But he does give modern exegetes a model to imitate. And, most important of all, he shows how far exegesis can proceed, how much we can learn about our origins, if we accept without reservation the veracity of the text of Genesis.
St. Lawrence is the exemplar for the exegesis of Genesis 1-11 in the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is evident from his commentary on Genesis 1-3 that he took those chapters as an inerrant literal historical account of beginning of the world and the human species as related by the prophet Moses under divine inspiration. He realized that Scripture sometimes expresses literal truth in obvious metaphors, just as we do in our everyday speech. But that did not mean to him that Genesis 1-3 is a string of metaphors, or an allegory, that has to be deciphered by experts, which seems to be the opinion of modern Catholic exegetes. Instead, Lawrence saw that careful study of the language of text uncovers deeper strata of its literal meaning. He employs tradition, both Jewish and Catholic, the sciences of his day, and common sense imbued with deep faith.