Sabbatical Introduction

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It’s official–I have begun the first sabbatical of my career. I have many projects on the plate, all relating to topics of interest to this blog. The first major one, with which I’ve been busy, is a book project pertaining to Alfred Loisy. Loisy was a Catholic priest and Bible scholar from the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. He was excommunicated as a Modernist in 1908. In fact, he was at the heart of the controversy over Roman Catholic Modernism which Pope St. Pius X condemned as the “synthesis of all heresies” in his 1907 papal encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis. I’m convinced that the biblical scholarship of Loisy and many of his contemporaries, as well as the responses to such scholarship from the Magisterium and from other anti-Modernists, played a very significant role in what came later in Catholic biblical scholarship in the second half of the 20th century, and today. I’m excited about the Loisy project because I have found that most scholars of Roman Catholic Modernism are either historical theologians, systematicians, fundamental theologians, or the like (or a combination), but tend to know less about the history of biblical criticism. With few exceptions, when they do write about Loisy’s work in biblical studies (which is what got Loisy in trouble), they focus on his New Testament work without dealing much with Loisy’s quite substantial work on the Old Testament. Moreover, fewer know much about Loisy’s early work in the related field of Assyriology. The first few chapters of the book I’m working on during my sabbatical deal especially with Loisy’s Old Testament work and his work in Assyriology. They build upon work I’ve already done for conference presentations at the American Academy of Religion, La Société Internationale d’Études sur Alfred Loisy, and the Near Eastern Archaeological Society, which in turn resulted in an article last year in the Near Eastern Archaeological Society Bulletin, another article that came out earlier this year in Journal for the History of Modern Theology/Zeitschrift für Neuere Theologiegeschichte, as well as another article forthcoming from the Journal of Religious History. The work I did for those presentations and articles underscored for me the significance of Loisy’s early Assyriological work for his Old Testament studies. So, I’m enjoying pulling this all together as I write my book. So, thus begins my year-long sabbatical at undisclosed locations. I will try to post on some of the interesting findings as I progress.

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