Exegete and founder, under Pius X, of the pontifical biblical institute; b. Wissen, near Düsseldorf, Germany, Jan. 14, 1865; d. Vienna, Austria, Oct. 19, 1930. He made his humanistic studies at Kempen, Germany, and his philosophical and theological studies at the Gregorian University, Rome. Ordained in 1889, he entered the Society of Jesus in Germany in 1892. His biblical studies, begun at the Gregorian under R. Cornely, were continued from 1893 to 1899 in England, Egypt, and Palestine and at the Universities of Berlin and Munich. He taught NT exegesis at the University of Innsbruck from 1901 to 1908, when he was invited to the Gregorian. That was the age of the crisis of Modernism. In 1907, pius x published the decree lamentabili and the encyclical pascendi; in 1909 he founded the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and made Fonck its first rector. The directives of Pius determined all of Fonck's work and thought.
For the next 20 years, Fonck devoted himself to this institute. As rector from 1909 to 1919 (though exiled to Switzerland during the war years, 1915–19), he formed its library, museum, publications, courses, and scientific method and prepared the founding of a filial institute in Jerusalem. Thereafter, he served as professor and as editor of Biblica. He was also a consultor of the pontifical biblical commission. His last years were spent in Prague and Vienna, where he devoted himself to the ministry.
Among the several books by Fonck on biblical topics, the best-known are his Parabeln des Herrn im Evangelium (Innsbruck 1902, 4th ed. 1927) and Wunder des Herren (Innsbruck 1903, 3d ed. 1907); the former appeared in English as The Parables of the Gospels, tr. G. O'Neill (New York 1915, 3d ed. 1918).
Bibliography: Biblica 11 (1930) 369–372. u. holzmeister, Dictionnaire de la Bible 3:310–312. p. nober, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2 4:194–195.