Saginaw: Fr. Bill Taylor, Bible Expert?

Is anyone of the Saginaw Diocese familiar with the background of Fr. Bill Taylor?

What little contact I have had with him makes me very nervous. He seems to be infatuated with the late liberal and possibly agnostic Fr. Raymond E. Brown. Prior to the publication of the Catechism, Brown published opinions about scripture that have been overturned by the magisterium, via the Catechism.

One cannot unequivocally embrace Brown, as Taylor seems to do.

Any better thoughts out there?

I think you have just covered it.

[quote=BayCityRickL]…the late liberal and possibly agnostic Fr. Raymond E. Brown.
[/quote]

What makes you think Fr. Brown may have been an agnostic?

I myself have a very cautious regard for the historical critical study of Scripture (though I don’t rule out its use entirely), but I’m not aware of anything in Brown’s writings to indicate that he was an agnostic. Where did you get your information? I’d be interested in checking it out.

God bless,
Donald

I have thought of Raymond Brown as a highly respected scripture scholar. What specific issues are in conflict?

Bob

recommended:

What Have They Done To God’s Word

available at www.catholicintl.com in CD and or DVD

Fr Brown has gone on to get his final reward… I don’t envy him.

[quote=trailblazer]I have thought of Raymond Brown as a highly respected scripture scholar. What specific issues are in conflict?

Bob
[/quote]

My copy of the Catechism is the first edition of the modern catechism that came out in the early nineties. It has a preface by Pope John Paul II that it was developed by bishops, (biblical) exegetes, scholars, and others and reflects the magisterium of the Church. Better to read it yourself than just this thumbnail.

My criticism of Fr. Brown is based on my own readings, generally. But, briefly, Brown is especially convinced that lots of scripture is fiction, for example, the creation stories in Genesis. This is specifically over-ruled by paragraph 390 of the Catechism.

Brown had a heavy hand in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary. There’s a chapter on the idea that we don’t really know the historical Jesus. We only know the Jesus of faith, from heavily edited New Testament writings. Well, this betrays the old quote from St. Jerome himself that to know the Scriptures is to know Jesus.

In the chapter on modern trends in biblical analysis, Brown praises Rudolf Bultmann as the greatest theologian of the twentieth century. In fact, Erdmann’s History of Christianity also praises Bultmann. Bultmann is credited for the idea that the New Testament is all mythology. Bultman specifically and notoriously rejects the resurrection. Brown himself describes Bultmann as an agnostic in the book Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church (about 1974 or 1975). I call Brown an agnostic because he seems so cozy with Bultmann, and he seems relentlessly to attacking patristic biblical interpretation.

Brown was undoubtedly a very educated man. In the Reflections book and the Commentary he is studious about presenting the official statements about scripture from the church. Then, he simply plows through all the conventional ideas, to dispel them.

For example, in his book 101 questions and answers about the Bible, Brown goes into length to show how the nativity narratives of the New Testament gospels are contrived. He says they’re all fiction. They simply were written to “fulfill” all the prophecies of the Hebrew scriptures. This idea is generally overruled by the Catechism around paragraph 1550, give or take 25 paragraphs. The Catechism is reviewing and marveling in the details we have of Christ’s nativity.

In the Issues book, he discusses the idea of female ordination. He makes the profound idea that the Bible simply means what one wants it to mean. And, therefore, he presents actually three possible interpretations of scripture to fit the pro- , con-, and whatever the third position was. For one, they all can’t be valid. Second, JPII came down on the con - side around 1994, thus sort of squashing the other viewpoints Brown.

In brief, the issue is magisterium. Brown laments that the Pontifical Biblical Commission is scholarly, but not magisterial. One must simply and profoundly compare the catechism with anything Brown has said.

Things that “scholars” like Brown puts forth are simply arguments, not conclusions of the Church, even if his books have imprimaturs and nihil obstats in them.

[quote=BayCityRickL]My copy of the Catechism is the first edition of the modern catechism that came out in the early nineties. It has a preface by Pope John Paul II that it was developed by bishops, (biblical) exegetes, scholars, and others and reflects the magisterium of the Church. Better to read it yourself than just this thumbnail.

My criticism of Fr. Brown is based on my own readings, generally. But, briefly, Brown is especially convinced that lots of scripture is fiction, for example, the creation stories in Genesis. This is specifically over-ruled by paragraph 390 of the Catechism.

Brown had a heavy hand in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary. There’s a chapter on the idea that we don’t really know the historical Jesus. We only know the Jesus of faith, from heavily edited New Testament writings. Well, this betrays the old quote from St. Jerome himself that to know the Scriptures is to know Jesus.

In the chapter on modern trends in biblical analysis, Brown praises Rudolf Bultmann as the greatest theologian of the twentieth century. In fact, Erdmann’s History of Christianity also praises Bultmann. Bultmann is credited for the idea that the New Testament is all mythology. Bultman specifically and notoriously rejects the resurrection. Brown himself describes Bultmann as an agnostic in the book Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church (about 1974 or 1975). I call Brown an agnostic because he seems so cozy with Bultmann, and he seems relentlessly to attacking patristic biblical interpretation.

Brown was undoubtedly a very educated man. In the Reflections book and the Commentary he is studious about presenting the official statements about scripture from the church. Then, he simply plows through all the conventional ideas, to dispel them.

For example, in his book 101 questions and answers about the Bible, Brown goes into length to show how the nativity narratives of the New Testament gospels are contrived. He says they’re all fiction. They simply were written to “fulfill” all the prophecies of the Hebrew scriptures. This idea is generally overruled by the Catechism around paragraph 1550, give or take 25 paragraphs. The Catechism is reviewing and marveling in the details we have of Christ’s nativity.

In the Issues book, he discusses the idea of female ordination. He makes the profound idea that the Bible simply means what one wants it to mean. And, therefore, he presents actually three possible interpretations of scripture to fit the pro- , con-, and whatever the third position was. For one, they all can’t be valid. Second, JPII came down on the con - side around 1994, thus sort of squashing the other viewpoints Brown.

In brief, the issue is magisterium. Brown laments that the Pontifical Biblical Commission is scholarly, but not magisterial. One must simply and profoundly compare the catechism with anything Brown has said.

Things that “scholars” like Brown puts forth are simply arguments, not conclusions of the Church, even if his books have imprimaturs and nihil obstats in them.
[/quote]

Well done post BCRick – and a simple internet search will turn up a great deal of interest on Fr. Brown, together with many Catholic periodicals who discuss the “problems”. Suffice to say, he is best described as highly controversial, and there is as much con as there is pro about him.

[quote=HagiaSophia]Well done post BCRick – and a simple internet search will turn up a great deal of interest on Fr. Brown, together with many Catholic periodicals who discuss the “problems”. Suffice to say, he is best described as highly controversial, and there is as much con as there is pro about him.
[/quote]

Where I have traveled in the Diocese, the “footprint” of Brown looms large and so I’m really in attack mode, within my feeble competencies.

[quote=BayCityRickL]Where I have traveled in the Diocese, the “footprint” of Brown looms large and so I’m really in attack mode, within my feeble competencies.
[/quote]

I know the feeling…indeed I do. He was once presented to someone at the North American College in Rome as “one of our brightest and best” – the other professor quietly left the gathering ASAP. These days unforetunately you often have to tread quietly in some areas…sigh.

I have never read anything of Fr Taylor so I will not comment on his works. I have however been exposed to Fr Brown’s works. First, I admire his scholarship which I often found benefical though sometime I really didnot understand it entirely or rejected his conclusions (I think his work on the Birth of Christ includes all three of these positions) Two points about his kind of work and the work of other scripture scholars. As I was taught and I whole agree with, we have to understand the NT as a post Resurrectional work. Everything, although guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, developed from the human understanding of the community and individual(s) from where the work came.Therefore, being a human work of the first centuries of the common era, the writers used the literary styles of their culture and expressed this and not always using the means as we would today - thus four gospes relating how these communities were effected differently by the life, death and resurrction of Christ. Accuracy as we would have it just wasn’t their style at that time thus the possibility of the use of myths and stories to express who Jesus was for the people to whom Matthew was writing as well as John, Mark and Luke. I think Fr Brown’s work is important in showing this. Second, much of what I see being labeled as “Fiction” in the sense that the term “Fiction” is used today, rather a more precise term is “Myth” which has a much deeper meaning. Now I’m looking forward to a continous diologue on this subject.

[quote=TOME]…Therefore, being a human work of the first centuries of the common era…
[/quote]

I suppose we disagree here, on this point. The Church seems to have the opinion that the scriptures, in the first place, are inspired by God, the “Word of God” as we say.

I’ve just finished reading Jaroslav Pelikan’s book on the history of the scriptures called “Whose Bible Is It?” and he has quite an apologetic tone about the scriptures, that is to say, he defends them against the various forms of criticism that have developed around the scriptures through the years.

As a historian, he does an outstanding job of showing how important it was that the New Testament developed at all, and for that matter, it developed all in Greek, as that was the dominant language at the time. It used Koine Greek, which was, he says, the ordinary Greek that was in use. That had a considerable impact on the spreading of the Gospel.

He uses one or two examples to show how the Greek language itself must be studied because of the importance of the significant body of Greek intellectual thought. So, the use of the word “Logos” in the first chapter of the Gospel of John requires one to look back to Sophacles and to similar uses in the Greek Septuagent on the one hand, and to trace back “wisdom” into the original Hebrew book of Proverbs, as there are plausible extensions in both of those directions.

Pelikan is a world class scholar and his new book is a must-read.

[quote=BayCityRickL]I suppose we disagree here, on this point. The Church seems to have the opinion that the scriptures, in the first place, are inspired by God, the “Word of God” as we say.

Actually, reading all of your contributions I think we are very much in agreement, I must not be expressing myself clearly, I apologize (that’s one of the things I like about these threds, it helps me to clarify my though). As for Fr. Brown, I think he is an important scholar and has added great contributions, even in his mistakes, but he is not the be all or end all - to use an old phrase.
One thing we certainly agree on is the works of J. Pelikan - his books are on my top shelf and falling apart from use. But back to the main point, I think Brown’s works and others like him, are important in giving us a deeper understanding of how God is working through human instruments to reveal Himself through the Scriptures. One little confession, I even read Crossan, and, in my opinion, when he is not preaching his agenda under the guise of historical scholarship, he actually can be a valuable resource. But I believe the critical thing is to use as many resources as possible. One more confession, I like to use the Christological Work of this one priest but for the life of me I cannot remember his name and I’m away from my books right now. But thanks again for keeping on the
[/quote]

This is just a follow up to my previous post. I find and would suggest to others the works of Fr. Roch A. Kereszty, O. Cist.Abby Press is his publisher (and I don’t even know this gentleman).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.