Father John Lingard (1771 - 1851) was an English Roman Catholic priest, born near Winchester to recusant parents and the author of The History Of England, From the First Invasion by the Romans to the Accession of Henry VIII, an 8-volume work published in 1819.
The principal object of the work is to emphasise the disastrous effects of the Reformation. The book was later expanded by the author and the title changed to reflect the period covered.
The edition that is usually seen is a 10 volume set, "to the Accession of William and Mary in 1688." There is an enlarged 13 volume set published just before Lingard's death which was his final revision, "to the Commencement of the Reign of William the Third." The History was abridged and revised adding material to bring its treatment up to the then present and used as a text in English Catholic schools during the nineteenth century.
Lesser known than Lingard's historical works is his anonymously published translation of the Four Gospels in 1836. The title page reads simply that the work is "by a Catholic." Lingard departed from usual Catholic practice by using early Greek manuscripts rather than the Latin Vulgate as the principal basis for the translation. This resulted in such renderings as "repent" rather than "do penance" (Matt 3:2). His willingness to depart from Catholic tradition contrasts with his contempt for the Protestant concept of "private interpretation" of Scripture. In a note to John 1:1, he states, "Hence it happens that men of every persuasion find confirmation of their peculiar opinions in the sacred volumes: for, in fact, it is not the Scripture that informs them, but that they affix their own meaning to the language of Scripture."
Lingard's work influenced Francis P. Kenrick (1796-1863), Roman Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia, and later Archbishop of Baltimore, who published his own translation of the Four Gospels in 1849. By 1851, Lingard felt sufficiently confident to publish a new edition of his Four Gospels in his own name.
Lingard was accorded no recognition by the British intellectual establishment. History of England is a substantial scholarly work which while giving full treatment to the history of England on relevant matters takes a Catholic approach.
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