The CTS Annual convention will be held at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN (May 31-June 3). My abstract submission was accepted, so I will read my paper in one of the convention’s Scripture panels. For more information on this conference, click here.
Title of Paper: Orienting Catholic Exegesis Against Anti-Semitic Interpretations of the Old Testament: An Analysis of the Jerome Biblical Commentary
Abstract of Paper:
One of the stated goals of the Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968) was to showcase how Catholic exegetes could contribute to biblical studies, and to simultaneously give priests and laypeople a resource for the Bible. The update in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary (1990) still orients itself in a defensive posture about Catholic participation in this scholarship. Still, neither editions accounted for the ways that some traditional interpretations concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments have supported anti-Semitism. There are examples of this in historical Christian theology, contemporary Catholic interpretation, and even in the Jerome Biblical Commentary itself. While they are not all overtly anti-Semitic, the levels include hard supersessionism and statements that do not reflect the inclusive spirit of Vatican II. Examining these issues could be a helpful lesson for Catholic commentaries on the Bible.
This paper provides a historical survey of Christian interpretations of the Old Testament that do not rightly contend with the existence of Judaism. There are several important thinkers who have been instrumental in this history, but pointing to areas of Christian thought that provide a faithful alternative will also be an important part of the survey. Next, there is an analysis of both commentaries and their contribution to this topic, which will establish a foundation for practical steps of improvement. Finally, these steps will be explicated to provide both a concrete set of editorial suggestions and a pedagogical reflection on the problem itself. Embracing the legacy of the Jerome Biblical Commentary and its connection to Vatican II, Catholic participation in biblical scholarship can truly depart from a defensive position. In an ecumenical dialogue about Christian exegesis from a decidedly Catholic perspective, the lack of any discussion of anti-Semitism is almost a sin of omission.