An Act of Theology

The Future of Catholic Biblical Scholarship

Last August the Catholic Biblical Association of America celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary. The makeup of the CBA’s membership today is far different from that of the group founded in 1937, and now includes laypeople as well as clerics, women as well as men, and even Protestants and Jews. Moreover, the group is in the process of reorganizing itself to respond more readily to the challenges it will face in the years ahead. Despite these changes, the soul and spirit of the CBA remain intact. It is an association of professional exegetes who have dedicated their lives to studying and researching the Scriptures for the sake of those who treasure them as God’s inspired word.

On the occasion of its anniversary, the CBA spent some time reflecting on its past and future. Having just retired from the Catholic University of America, where I taught New Testament for the past twenty-four years, I offer a version of these reflections on where American Catholic biblical scholarship has been and what direction it might profitably take in the years to come.

Seventy-five years ago Catholic biblical scholarship was still laboring under a number of restrictive decrees issued by the Vatican’s Biblical Commission at the beginning of the twentieth century. That situation began to change after Pius XII’s 1943 encyclical...

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About the Author

Frank J. Matera was for many years the Andrews-Kelly-Ryan Professor of Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America. He is the author of New Testament Theology: Exploring Diversity and Unity (Westminster John Knox Press).