Obituary: Dom Eligius Dekkers

FATHER ELIGIUS Dekkers, a Benedictine monk, dedicated his life to providing a critical edition of the original texts of the Church Fathers and later Christian theologians which serves as the basic reference source for scholars. Based in the Benedictine abbey of St Peter in Steenbrugge on the outskirts of Bruges, he founded in 1949 the Corpus Christianorum, which would grow into a series of some 500 volumes, most of them now also available on CD Rom.

The collection, published by Brepols in Turnhout, Belgium, was a reworking of the first such edition, the Bibliotheque universelle du clerge edited by Father Jacques-Paul Migne in the 19th century, but adhering to modern, scholarly norms. As the work expanded and new series were created to cover not only the Latin but, in 1976, the Greek fathers and, in 1981, the New Testament Apocrypha, Dekkers brought in specialists from relevant institutions to edit the individual series.

Dekkers's aim was to publish in the Series Latina all the works listed in the Clavis Patrum Latinorum, from Tertullian to Bede, and to publish in the Continuatio Mediaevalis the complete works of all important medieval authors, including Paschasius Radbertus, Peter Abelard, Hildegard of Bingen, William of St Thierry, Hugh of St Victor and the "Hermes Latinus".

The series also expanded to include lexicographical works and individual studies of different authors.

Born Jan Dekkers into a Flemish-speaking family in Antwerp, he entered the abbey of St Peter in Steenbrugge, assuming the name Eligius when he took his monastic vows in October 1934 at the age of 19. He was to remain in the same community for the rest of his life. He was elected Abbot in April 1967, a post he held until 1981. He taught for many years in the fields of patristics, theology and liturgy at the University of Leuven.

Although he would become widely known in the academic world for his Corpus Christianorum, Dekkers never went to university and was largely self-taught. During his novitiate he had studied philosophy and theology, but most of his academic education came through wide reading.

Dekkers received numerous accolades for his work, including several honorary doctorates. He was a corresponding Fellow of the British Academy and sat on editorial boards of various scholarly publications.

His death will not bring to a halt the mammoth publishing project he launched. His abbey and the publishers have pledged their continued support and the project will be overseen by an academic board chaired by Professor Fernand Bossier.

Dekkers was a gentle and modest man whose life of quiet scholarship was devoted to the academic project he himself launched nearly 50 years ago.

Jan Dekkers, monk: born Antwerp, Belgium 20 June 1915; professed a monk 1934 taking the name Eligius; founder of Corpus Christianorum 1949; Abbot of St Peter's, Steenbrugge 1967-81; died Bruges, Belgium 15 December 1998.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy