Posted September 13, 2006
Book: The Story of Father Marie-Joseph Lagrange: Founder of the Modern Catholic Bible Study
Author: Bernard Montagnes, OP
Paulist Press, New York. 2006. Pp. 214
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
The Story of Father Marie-Joseph Lagrange, founder of Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, is the story of the struggle within the Catholic Church for responsible academic freedom in the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas. Steeped in faith and utterly devoted to the church, Father Lagrange strove to apply the latest historical-critical methods to his biblical studies, to demystify the scriptures, and to make them available to the average Catholic. And yet, church authorities blocked the publication of his commentary on the Book of Genesis.
Unlike Alfred Loisy, who defiantly continued his scripture studies outside the church after being excommunicated, Father Lagrange continued to pursue his biblical studies within the church, always submitting to the requirements of ecclesiastical authorities. His life exemplifies heroism, obedience, and above all, an unflinching devotion to the truth. The cause for Father Lagrange’s beatification has been introduced in the Vatican.
Basing his account of Father Lagrange’s life on paintaking archival research in France, Italy, and Jerusalem, noted Dominican scholar Father Bernard Montagnes not only relates the surface story but also explores the personal feelings and thoughts of the principle characters at the time the events were occurring.
An Excerpt from the Book:
From the outset, Father Lagrange was overwhelmed by his experiences in the biblical lands, dazzled by the beauty of the country and moved by its traces of history: “I was stirred, seized, gripped by this sacred land, given over to delights of historical sensations of far-off-times. I had so loved the Book and now I contemplate the Land!” this time he had felt convinced: “Not a doubt existed in my mind on the rightness of doing biblical studies in Palestine.” He wrote to the master of the order: “The future practical school of higher biblical studies could not find a more appropriate place than Jerusalem, the Holy City of the Old Testament, a city whose very crimes makes it dear to all Christians, since they can follow there the scenes of the life and passion of God.”
Table of Contents:
1. Father Lagrange: the formative years
2. The founding of the Ecole Biblique
3. The widening influence of the Ecole Biblique
4. The struggles of Father Lagrange: The Fribourg Conference (1897)
5. The struggles of Father Lagrange: The Toulouse Lectures (1902)
6. Trails: the banned books
7. The reprimand from Rome
8. From reprobation to reconciliation
9. The Modernist crisis: aftermath
10. A Roman benediction
11. Autumn harvest