Twentieth-century patrologist, Orientalist, and theologian; b. Tamines, Belgium, Dec. 18, 1879; d. Namur, June 12, 1957. After following a course of studies in the diocesan institutions of Namur, Lebon was ordained on Aug. 10, 1903. He earned a doctorate at Louvain on July 14, 1909, with a dissertation (Le Monophysisme sévérien, Louvain 1907) that has been acknowledged as the standard history of the Monophysite Christology, then succeeded P. Ladeuze as professor of New Testament theology and patrology at the university. In December of 1918 he obtained the chair of the history of theology in the Middle Ages, and in 1920 he began to teach courses in Armenian culture. From 1932 to 1941 he taught Syriac languages and literature; and from 1942 to 1949, the introduction to the theology of the Orthodox churches.
Although Lebon devoted attention to other subjects, such as Christian of Stablo and Heriger of Lobbes, and published several studies on mariology, his main interest was centered on the Fathers of the Church and the development of Christology in the patristic age. Introduced to the study of monophysitism by J. Chabot, Lebon published a remarkable series of editions and studies dealing
with severus of antioch (ed. Contra impium Grammaticum, Orationes ad Nephalium, Correspondence with Sergius the Grammarian ); philoxenus of mabbugh (Textes inédits ); and a revised study of the Monophysite Christology (1951). He contributed a number of articles to the Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique and Muséon in which he identified works of theodoret of cyr and the florilegia of timothy aelurus, Severus of Antioch, and Ephrem of Antioch, and contributed monographs to a critical edition of the works of athanasius of Alexandria. He studied the definitions of faith at the Councils of Ephesus (431), Nicaea I (325), and Constantinople I (381) as well as that of Chalcedon (451). With J. de Ghellinck, he founded the Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense. An indefatigable and exact scholar, he collaborated on a number of projects in the field of Oriental patrology and was a mainstay in the continuation of the Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, a joint effort of the University of Louvain and The Catholic University of America.
Bibliography: g. bardy, Annua Nuntia Louvaniensia 5 (1948):56–75. Bibliographie académique 7 (1934–54):301–303. j.coppens, Ephemerides theologicae Lovanienses 33 (1957): 672–675. a. m. charue, Revue diocésaine de Namur 11 (1957): 335–344. a. van roey, Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 52 (1957): 1023–26.
[f. x. murphy]