Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Joseph Fitzmyer (1920-2016)

This makes a point I've often made, of which evangelical converts to Rome are generally oblivious or indifferent, that you had a sea-change in the Catholic view of Scripture in the second half of the 20C. A dramatic move to the left:

Along with Raymond Brown, S.S., and Roland Murphy, O. Carm., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., ("Joe Fitz" to all who knew him) was one of the leaders of the rebirth of Catholic Scripture scholarship in the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond. Today, with the complete freedom that Catholic biblical scholars have and the high esteem many of them enjoy in the upper realms of American universities and colleges, it is difficult to remember how dangerous and difficult it was for these three and their courageous brothers and sisters in the Catholic Biblical Association of America to champion historical critical exegesis at mid-century. The worst of the anti-Modernist suppression of scientific biblical research in the early 20th century had passed, but its "long hangover" plagued Catholic researchers up to even the early 70s. 
It was against such fierce fundamentalist attacks that Father Fitzmyer and his comrades fearlessly defended the best of cutting-edge biblical scholarship, while honestly criticizing the excesses of some. Along with many others, Father Fitzmyer marked the maturation of Catholic biblical research by moving the center of gravity of Catholic scholarship from Catholic seminaries to colleges and universities, be they Catholic, Protestant, inter-denominational or secular. 
The Rev. John Meier is the William K. Warren Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. 

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