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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Theological Notebook: On Kurz's Ciszek Lecture 
23rd-Feb-2006 03:00 am
I See You!
Tonight was a fairly significant theological event on campus. Our most senior scripture scholar, Fr. William S. Kurz, SJ, with whom I've done the bulk of my scriptural work at the doctoral level, gave this year's Annual Ciszek Lecture. As the blurbs read:
“Can a Biblical Scholar Be a Catholic? Searching for Responsible Theological Approaches to Scripture"
Father Kurz shares his personal scholarly journey from graduate studies at Yale until today in search of ways to understand and teach Scripture as an openly confessing Catholic scholar for Catholic believers. He relates the strengths and limitations of historical critical approaches, the excitement and disappointments of literary studies of the Bible, to a forthrightly Catholic Christian reading of Scripture inspired by Church Fathers like Sts. Irenaeus and Athanasius.
Fr. Kurz's lecture was packed, and perhaps there wasn't a whole lot I found particularly new (I have, afterall, been studying these issues with him and others intensely for the last few years), particularly after having worked through his masterful The Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship: A Constructive Conversation, which he co-wrote with his old Yale doctoral classmate and Emory University professor Luke Timothy Johnson. I've also just informally gotten together with him and other students over the last few years and read scripture together, some of which turned into his newest award-winner, What Does The Bible Say About The End Times?: A Catholic View, which attempts to break the hold that fundamentalist Protestant readings of Revelation (like are found in the Left Behind novels) have on the American imagination. This, too, had helped in familiarizing me with the ideas he shared tonight. Nevertheless, I thought that the presentation itself--as an event--and how it was received by the [admittedly, well-disposed] crowd was still significant. In being as autobiographical in his presentation as he was, he really was representing some of the academic or scholarly "mood" of the last forty years. That is, he wasn't just a scholar: he was also a "sample," as it were--an eyewitness to the process he described of how scholarly trend dramatically affected popular religious (and non- or anti-religious) experience in America over the last five decades. I think that his shift toward finding some way to integrate what's (inaccurately) called "pre-critical" scriptural readings with our historical-critical or even "post-critical" (whatever the hell that really is supposed to mean) readings will be interesting to observe over the next few years. I hope to post a transcript of the talk here shortly.
23rd-Feb-2006 09:31 am (UTC)
What would he think of Raymond Brown? John Meier? [Meier in the preface to volume 1 of his trilogy on the "historical Jesus" says it is possible to ge a person of Catholic faith yet also apply the tenets of modern NT studies, particularly NT studies]

I enjoyed LTJ's book about the quest for the "historical" Jesus.
23rd-Feb-2006 09:41 am (UTC)
Oh, he's definitely not being merely "anti-higher-criticism." That's pretty much a self-defeating proposition from the start. But he's pointing out that even from the time of his grad studies at Yale, the philosophical projections from the Enlightenment that were anti-religious prejudices masking as neutral scholarship were obvious to him. And we've seen more and more of that Enlightenment edifice crumble in years since. But just denying historical-critical insight is just as prejudicial, and he sees (and uses!) the tools of historical-critical methods masterfully. All this doctoral seminars start from that point. But they don't have an ideological claim of exclusivity as the only way to true insight and knowledge, in the manner of Enlightenment philosophies of "rationalism." So tonight while acknowledging and drawing on Modern methods, he spoke of ways of synthesizing the modern with the antique and the medieval, not rejecting the Modern in order to merely return to the Ancient or Medieval. That's where I think the creative challenge and opportunity comes in. And that's as best as I can try to explain it on my way to bed!
23rd-Feb-2006 01:19 pm (UTC)
Can a Biblical Scholar Be a Catholic?

I'm sorry. I read that and couldn't help thinking, Are they kidding? A Biblical Scholar can be POPE! Given Pope Benedict XVI's comprehension and interest in theology, he continually impresses me with his understanding, not only of Catholicism, but also of all of the world religions, and how they relate to each other.

Off-topic, have you done an entry on Opus Dei? I've been curious about it (in a non-DaVinci Code way) for quite some time. I have not had the opportunity to read my wishlist's wealth of Escriva that's been recommended to me. On one level, I'm still interested in hearing others' personal opinions of it. What do you think?
23rd-Feb-2006 03:58 pm (UTC)
On that, I'd look up John Allen's "The Word From Rome" column online from the National Catholic Reporter. If you go back a few months into his archives you'll find a summation article (I probably did note it in here somewhere--you might find it by clicking my "ecclesiology" tag, might not) about his book on the subject that seemed quite sensible.
23rd-Feb-2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
Q & A on Opus Dei. Thank you!

Now, what do you think about it?
25th-Feb-2006 07:45 am (UTC)
Well, certainly none of the absurd conspiracy stuff. They are what they are: sometimes traditionalist, smart, but too Baroque in their spirituality for my taste. My Christianity and my spirituality is too much influenced by antiquity and the medieval Church, much less the post-Vatican II Church to be too comfortable in their approach. It seems to "oppositional" to the world to my mind. I've known some good people in it, and they've attempted to recruit me, but I've also seen some others whose approach that I didn't care for at all, with a form of Christianity that seemed too heavy-handed and too cold for me. So like any group, you see people who are better or worse, but the overall approach has just never really attracted me, although I do find their mix of laity and ordained to be very innovative and interesting.
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