Franciscan philosopher and theologian; b. County Cork, Ireland, c. 1599; d. Paris, 1661. He has been frequently but erroneously called Ponce, from the Latinized surname Poncius. He entered the Franciscans at St. Anthony's College, Louvain, studied philosophy in Cologne, and then theology, first in Louvain, and from Sept. 9, 1625, at St. Isidore's College, Rome. He taught two courses of philosophy at St. Isidore's and then theology
for many years; his brother Edmund, also a Franciscan, studied under him. For a brief period, beginning July 8, 1630, he was rector of the Ludovisian College, Rome. Under its founder, Luke wadding, St. Isidore's became the center for the 17th-century revival of Scotism. Punch collaborated with Wadding in editing the opera omnia of John duns scotus.
He left Rome for France probably early in 1648. With the exception of a short stay in Lyons and a brief period as commissary of the Irish Franciscan residence, Paris, he resided at the Grand Couvent, Paris. In 1653 he found himself in the thick of a literary battle with Richard Bellings and John MacCallaghan over Nuncio Giovanni Battista rinuccini's censures. Having got the worst of the battle, Punch retired to his Scotist studies. In 1658 he wrote to the minister general a strongly worded defense of the Irish Franciscan exiles from Cromwellian persecution. He was the first to give a complete course of Scotist philosophy and theology, distinct from the traditional commentary on the Sentences; as a result he became, after Wadding, the most familiar figure of the Isidorian school of writers. A mature scholar, gifted with a subtle intelligence, he made no effort to reconcile St. Thomas Aquinas and Scotus, but accepted traditional Scotism, occasionally propounding original arguments. Even opponents, e.g., B. mastrius, admitted his greatness. His major work on philosophy had five editions between 1642–43 and 1672. A course of Scotist theology was published in 1652; and in 1661, his monumental Commentarii theologici. Well-versed in the humanities and a facile writer, he was preeminently a metaphysician.
Bibliography: j. kaup, in Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 8:607. a. teetaert, in Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 12.2:2547–48. g. cleary, Father Luke Wadding and St. Isidore's College, Rome (Rome 1925) 43, 55–56, 83–87. b. millett, The Irish Franciscans 1651–1665 (Rome 1964). b. jennings, ed., Wadding Papers 1614–38 (Dublin 1953); "Miscellaneous Documents 1625–40," Archivium Hibernicum 14 (1949) 1, 3, 10, 12; "Sint-Truiden: Irish Franciscan Documents," ibid. 24 (1961) 184. l. wadding, Scriptores Ordinis Minorum (Rome 1650; 3d ed. 1906) 149–150. j. h. sbaralea, Supplementum et castigatio ad scriptores trium ordinum S. Francisci a Waddingo, 2 v. (Rome 1806; new ed. in 4 v. 1906–36) 2:118. u. smeets, Lineamenta bibliographiae Scotisticae (Rome 1942) 4, 19, 55, 109. Father Luke Wadding: Commemorative Volume (Dublin, London 1957). m. o'n. walsh, "Irish Books Printed Abroad 1475–1700," Irish Book 2 (1963) 25–26. m. grajewski, "John Ponce, Franciscan Scotis of the Seventeenth Century," Franciscan Studies 6 (1946) 54–92.