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Fordham Hosts Catholic Biblical Association Annual Conference


Leading biblical scholars gathered at Fordham University in August to share the latest research about sacred scripture.

The 71st International Meeting of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (CBA) brought attendees from as far away as Switzerland, Nigeria and Jerusalem to the Rose Hill campus.

Father Richard J. Cassidy explains the varying portrayals of the apostle Peter at the CBA’s annual meeting. Photo by Michael Dames

Over four days, they were treated to nearly 50 research presentations with titles such as “What’s Catholic about a Catholic Translation of the Bible?” “The Strange Case of the Missing Adulteress” and “Africa and Africans in the New Testament.”

In his presentation on “The Portrayal of Peter in the Gospels of Matthew and John,” Father Richard J. Cassidy of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit discussed Peter’s role as symbolic “hireling” in John’s gospel.

“In John 10, it was a case of the hireling abandoning the sheep out of fear. In John 18, it is a case of the hireling abandoning the Good Shepherd out of fear,” Father Cassidy said, referring to Peter denying Christ three times on the eve of his crucifixion.

“In John 21 … what emerges is that the one who was formerly the hireling par excellence, is now the one specifically chosen by the Good Shepherd to be the pastor of the sheep,” he explained.

CBA members also took part in continuing seminars and task forces, which allow participants to study a range of biblical research topics and debate their findings at the annual conferences.

“Our annual meetings alternate between the west coast, Midwest and east coast,” said Joseph Jensen, OSB, executive secretary of the association. “Fordham made an invitation that was hard to refuse; they had the campus, location, amenities and top scripturalists.”

CBA was born from a gathering in 1936 of American Catholic scripture scholars who were charged with revising the translation of the New Testament. Today, the group has more than 2,600 active members.

“There is very much a commitment in this organization to both the academy and the church,” said Harry Nasuti, Ph.D., professor of theology and director of the honors program at Fordham College at Rose Hill.

The event also served to further strengthen CBA’s relationship with the University. The association recognizes the rigor of Fordham’s biblical studies program by funding a graduate scholarship that pays for five years of tuition plus a stipend. Fordham is one of only four universities to receive such an award from CBA.

Moreover, Father Richard Dillon, professor of theology at Fordham, was a recent editor of CBA’s scholarly journal, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly.

“This is the sort of organization that speaks exactly to what Fordham is all about,” said Nasuti, who helped plan the conference. “I was so happy to have my graduate students be a part of something like this; it really gave them a sense of what it’s like to be a biblical scholar.”


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