Monthly Archives: November 2010

Insight on empty tomb and manger

A Western Australia Catholic journal reports a visit to an excavated site at a convent in Nazareth. Locals believe it may be the tomb of St. Joseph. In any event, it offers us insight into what Jesus’ tomb may have looked like, as well as his manger in Bethlehem. Note the photos at


Year 1 of Catholic Biblical School – in N.C.

Jim Hynes, director of Adult and Elementary Faith Development at St. Thomas More Parish in Chapel Hill, N.C., posts on Year 1 of CBS in his blog, For Catholic Grownups. He also offers podcasts from the two previous times the parish has offered the Denver Catholic Biblical School program.

For the latest post, on the Ark of the Covenant, he includes a picture of a cherub in the Assyrian style, from the British Museum in London. Here’s the link:

Year 1 covers Genesis to Kings, and it’s being presented this year in Monroe, Louisiana, in our Eastern Deanery, by Jim McGill. He and Gene Giuliano, our instructor here in Shreveport for Year 2, drive over from University of Dallas School of Ministry every month to bring us this program.  We cover several lessons at a time, instead of one lesson a week. And we’re so grateful to have Gene’s and Jim’s expertise!


Luke or Mark? And why?

The canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke &...

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Now that we’re finishing study of our second gospel, which do we prefer, Mark or Luke? That was instructor Gene Giuliano’s question during our last class.
Of course, it’s not really a fair question. We wouldn’t have Luke if Mark hadn’t come first. But so much of what we consider basic to our faith springs from Luke and is not in Mark’s gospel.
Luke emphasizes boundless mercy and forgiveness. The sheer joy of Christianity. The power of prayer. Respect for women. The proper use of wealth. Lavish love for all those society shuns: sinners and outcasts.
“For behold I bring you good news of great joy.”
“There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Where would Christianity be without the parable of the prodigal son? Or other stories unique to Luke: Elizabeth and Zechariah. The shepherds at Bethlehem. The Good Samaritan. Martha and Mary. Zacchaeus. The ten lepers. The road to Emmaus.
Still, I have tremendous respect for Mark. He was the first to see the need for a “good news” narrative of Christ’s life. He wrote with such passion, urging people to shoulder Christ’s cross and persevere even unto death. Mark portrayed Jesus as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah—a new kind of Messiah.
His gospel’s abrupt ending serves as a clarion call through the ages: It is we who must carry out the commission of the women at the empty tomb. It is we who must “go and tell” the good news of salvation, conquering our fear.
Mark summons courage.

Another blog of Catholic Biblical School

Odos — what a great name for a Bible blog. It means “way” or “road” in Greek. This blog, which also started in August, comes from the instructors and staff of the Denver Catholic Biblical and Catechetical School. “As Catholics, we are all called to follow the ‘Way of the Lord,’ as Jesus continually calls us to do in the Gospels. But what does this mean to a typical Catholic trying to live in the modern world? This blog … seeks to explore those questions using Sacred Scripture and the living tradition of the Catholic Church.” Take a look!

More on our Jewish roots

With Year 1 of Catholic Biblical School behind us, we have a far greater appreciation of Christianity’s Jewish heritage. I’ve particularly enjoyed reading Old Testament-based fiction. Fellow CBS scholar Kim Long introduced me to Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent and I introduced her to the commentary I found, Sandra Hack Polaski’s Inside the Red Tent.

Here’s a fascinating multimedia discussion, The Jewish Roots of the Christian Story, which ran on American Public Media radio at Easter 2005. It focuses on New Testament writings. It’s an hour-long program. With my slow satellite connection, I’ve never been able to hear it all the way through, but what I’ve heard is fascinating.

Try out all the “pages.” There are links to several interesting resources – art (Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion), music, and thoughtful articles. One is a reprint of a 1995 America article, “The Narratives of Jesus’ Passion and Anti-Judaism,” by New Testament scholar Raymond E. Brown ( You may have studied Brown’s writings in other Bible courses. Time Magazine called him “probably the premier Catholic Scripture scholar in the U.S.” Father Brown, who died in 1998, was a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. We’ll be using his The Gospel and Epistles of John later in Year 2.

Brown’s article outlines the gradual development of anti-Judaism after the time of Christ. It did not spring full-blown from the writings of the gospels, he explains. It appeared with the advent of bad relations between believers in Jesus and those who did not believe in him. “The effect of the hostile feelings became one-sided after the conversion of Constantine to Christ and the gaining of political power by Christians.” I found this very helpful in understanding how anti-Semitism developed.

Fulfillment and anti-Semitism

1250 French Bible illustration depicts Jews (i...

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A friend told me recently that as a child she wondered, “How could the Jews not see that Jesus was God?” Wasn’t it obvious that the Scriptures were being fulfilled before their eyes?

Fulfillment. Such a loaded word for Christians. It’s a complicated concept, and I’m glad Gene lingered on it during our last class. Misunderstanding fulfillment and castigating Jews for not accepting Jesus as Messiah lies at the root of so much violence and tragedy the past 2,000 years: holocaust, pogroms, inquisition and more.

Gene’s discussion was based on “The Unity of God’s Plan and the Idea of Fulfillment,” Section II, A, 5 of The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible. It’s a 2001 document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, with a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger:

In essence, Christians look at the Old Testament retrospectively, through the lens of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection. “It cannot be said, therefore, that Jews do not see what has been proclaimed in the text, but that the Christian, in the light of Christ and in the Spirit, discovers in the text an additional meaning that was hidden there.” Christ fulfilled the Scriptures “in a manner unforeseen.” He transcended them, conveying a fuller meaning that could not have been imagined in advance.

My thoughts as a child took a different tack than my friend’s. I was glad I hadn’t lived in Christ’s time, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t have known Him, I wouldn’t have followed Him. Just imagine the vast crowd bowing before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, greeting him as the Messiah. Where were they days later? Jesus did not meet their Scripture-based expectations of a deliverer. He died as a common criminal. I very well could have been among the good and faithful Jews still awaiting the Messiah.