founder of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem. Lagrange took a doctorate in law at the University of Paris before entering the Toulouse province of the Dominican Order in 1879. After seminary studies at the University of Salamanca in Spain (1880–1884), he taught there and in Toulouse (1884–1888) before undertaking graduate studies at the University of Vienna (1888–1890). He opened the École Biblique on 15 November 1890, and within a decade he had recruited and trained scholars of the caliber of M. A. Jaussen (1871–1962), L.-H. Vincent (1872–1960), A. M. Savignac (1874–1951), F.-M. Abel (1878–1953), and P. E. Dhorme (1881–1966), whose original research quickly demanded an outlet. In 1892 he founded the Revue Biblique and in 1900 the monograph series Études Bibliques, both of which still flourish.

Lagrange carried out pioneering topographical research in Palestine, Sinai, and Petra but is best known as a historian, a biblical commentator, and the author of twenty-nine books. In addition to full-scale commentaries on Judges (1903), Mark (1911), Romans (1916), Galatians (1918), Luke (1921), Matthew (1923), and John (1925), his research produced major works on the canon and textual criticism of the New Testament, messianism, and intertestamental Judaism. Many of his 248 articles made highly original contributions in areas as diverse as the theology of inspiration, patrology, and Palestinian topography. His 1,500 book reviews reveal a fruitful and sustained dialogue with authors specializing in all facets of biblical studies.

Lagrange's programmatic book La méthode historique (1903) won him enemies among Roman Catholic traditionalists during the Modernist crisis, but his loyalty and perseverance eventually established the critical method as fundamental to Catholic biblical studies. Before poor health obliged him to leave Jerusalem in 1935, he had initiated a second generation of brilliant scholars, notably, Pierre Benoit (1906–1987), Bermara Couroyer (1900– ), and Roland de Vaux (1903–1971).

[See also École Biblique et Archéologique Française.]


  • Braun, François-Marie. L'oeuvre du Père Lagrange: Étude et bibliographie. Fribourg, 1943.
    Indispensable for its exhaustive bibliography.
  • Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, with a contribution by Justin Taylor. The Ecole Biblique and the New Testament: A Century of Scholarship, 1890–1990. Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus, vol. 13. Fribourg, 1990.
    See chapter 2 for a critical evaluation of Lagrange's contribution to New Testament scholarship.
  • Lagrange, Marie-Joseph. Pére Lagrange: Personal Reflections and Memoirs. Translated by Henry Wansbrough. Foreword by Pierre Benoit. New York, 1985. An approach to an autobiography for the years 1855–1913, edited by Pierre Benoît as Le Père Lagrange, au service de la Bible: Souvenirs personnels (Paris, 1967).

Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, o.p.