Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Lonergan and Bible

Hello, all. There are some very interesting developments afoot in the world of Lonerganian thinking about biblical studies. As no doubt some who read this blog know, the late Ben F. Meyer worked extensively on developing Lonerganian thought in relation to biblical studies, specifically New Testament studies. But sadly Dr. Meyer was sick for many years, and thus did not produce as many students who could continue this project as he might have otherwise done. There are, however, signs today of a growing interest among biblical scholars, especially New Testament scholars, in returning to Meyer and his engagement with Lonergan. Perhaps most exciting, the idea of developing some sort of Lonergan and Bible Group at the SBL Annual has been floated around.

When this idea was initially proposed to me, the idea was Lonergan and New Testament, simply because the discussion was taking place among New Testament scholars. But some subsequent discussions have led me to think more broadly of Lonergan and Biblical Studies, with the latter term construed broadly to include Hebrew Bible, Second Temple studies, New Testament, potentially even Patristics and Rabbinics. The idea would be to take the fruits of Lonergan's breakthrough in developing a historically-conscious hermeneutic and work these out in relation to these various fields. Of course, because of Meyer's work, New Testament scholarship is currently best situated to undertake such work, but there is no reason in principle that it could not be also carried out in cognate areas. For instance, in a single paragraph on pp. 188-189 of Early Christians: Their World Mission and Self-Discovery, Meyer presents the rudiments of a dialectical--in the sense used by Lonergan--approach to the religion of Israel, a matter that Lonergan also touches upon briefly in, for instance, The Way to Nicea. It would be fascinating to hear what a specialist in Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel might make of Meyer's thoughts here. I would also note that this discussion in Early Christians, published in 1986, could only be improved by engagement with Robert Doran's 1990 masterpiece of Lonerganian thought, Theology and the Dialectics of History, as well as Meyer's own subsequent thought on related conceptual matters in Christus Faber. The point to be made: there are already some ready starting points in Lonergan and the broader Lonerganian enterprise that could greatly facilitate the sort of work in which a Lonergan and Bible Group might be interested.

Anyways, the purpose of this post is to put this on people's radar. There is talk about an informal meeting at SBL Annual in Boston this coming November, to discuss the potential for such a Lonergan and Bible group. I have been quite happily surprised by the degree of interest in Lonergan and Meyer among biblical scholars, and the reciprocal interest in biblical studies by Lonergan scholars, so I feel that there are a lot of people out there who would welcome such discussions. It's now a matter of finding the right venues in which to bring such persons together.

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