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In memoriam Paul-Hubert Poirier (1948-2024)

On May 15, 2024, we received the news of the unexpected passing of Paul-Hubert Poirier. An eminent orientalist and historian of ancient Christianity, member of various North American and European academies and societies, Paul-Hubert was also one of the “originals” of the AELAC (Association pour l’Étude de la Littérature Apocryphe Chrétienne), founded in 1981, which he consistently supported with his encouragement and kind remarks.

For decades, Paul-Hubert Poirier was engaged, along with Yves Tissot († 2020), in editing the Acts of Thomas, one of the oldest and most complex apocryphal texts. He had hoped to complete this work for publication in the Series Apocryphorum of the Corpus Christianorum, when his sudden death intervened. The so-called Hymn of the Pearl, the most famous poem in ancient Syriac literature, attributed to the Apostle Thomas, had marked the beginning of Paul Hubert’s scholarly career. He fittingly dedicated a definitive edition and study to it in 2021 (Brepols - L’Hymne de la Perle des Actes de Thomas).

However, his interests extended far beyond this text. Many benefited from his erudition and advice, as evidenced by the extensive and diverse table of contents of his Festschrift, published in 2018 (Brepols - Christianisme des origines) on the occasion of his retirement from his position as a professor of patrology and Church history at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences at Université Laval.

For the Greek series of the Corpus Christianorum, Paul-Hubert collaborated with Agathe Roman, Thomas Schmidt, Eric Crégheur, and José Declerck on the bilingual (Greek-Syriac) edition of the four books Against the Manichaeans by the fourth-century bishop Titus of Bostra (Brepols - Contra Manichaeos Libri IV Graece et Syriace). The edition was accompanied by an annotated French translation (with Agathe Roman and Thomas Schmidt), published in the CCT series (Brepols - Contre les manichéens), and a study (with Timothy Pettipiece) in the IPM series (Brepols - Biblical and Manichaean Citations in Titus of Bostra’s Against the Manichaeans). Most recently, specialists in apocryphal literature are indebted to him for the volume Canonical and Apocryphal Gospels, published in the prestigious La Pléiade collection, to which he had already contributed, with Jean-Pierre Mahé, a volume on the Nag Hammadi gnostic library.

Paul-Hubert Poirier was a great humanist and scholar in the fields of Biblical studies, liturgy, and apocryphal literature. He was a welcome guest at symposia and meetings on both sides of the ocean. Above all, however, he was a kind person, always ready to share his wisdom. We will miss his benevolence, erudition, and his quiet yet attentive presence.

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