Exploring the Future of Biblical Studies
April 1-3, 2019 at the Notre Dame Conference Center, University of Notre Dame
The conference honors the 2019 publication of Olivier-Thomas Venard's A Poetic Christ: Thomist Reflections on Scripture, Language and Reality, translated by Francesca Murphy and Kenneth Oakes. The imminent publication of this text has inspired us to reflect on the project of the future of biblical studies. Venard has given us an example of what it might mean to reclaim learned study of the Word of God, of inspired Scripture, as such. If we follow Venard’s lead, recovering the learned study of the Word as Word would mean recovering the study of the Word as Wisdom. It would mean recovering biblical studies as a sapiential discipline intimately connected to history and philology yet not constitutively so. It would mean a recovery of other connections: to literature and literary theory, for example, and above all to philosophy and theology. What are the philosophical preconditions or presuppositions for a project ordered toward understanding of God's Word? Especially where God’s Word is understood as Dei Verbum presents it, as truly having God as its author as well as, in each case, a true human author. An approach from the liberal arts, especially history and literature, suffices if biblical studies brackets our consideration of the divine author. But then it is no longer study of the Word as such. How can we unlock the mostly untapped potential of Dei Verbum for the study of Scripture? How can we reconnect Word and Wisdom? If biblical studies cannot survive in its present form, could a sophisticated synthesis of history, contemporary philosophy of language, theology of culture, and traditional exegetical resources guide Biblical studies toward a better future?
As part of the conference celebrating the work of Fr. Olivier-Thomas Venard, the French-Armenian composer Michel Petrossian will introduce the première performance of his newly written musical composition for voices and instruments on Tuesday April 2, 2019 at the Eck Visitor Center. Beginning at 7:00pm, the concert will be preceded by a talk given by Fr. Venard.