Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Redford and Murphy O'Connor RIP
Last week Canon John Redford died he taught me scripture at the seminary, Fr Jerome Murphy O'Connor a more famous scripture scholar also died. Canon John once amazed me by saying, "Uh, I can read Ugaritic cuniform, there aren't many people in the world who can". Probably Fr Jerome Murphy O'Connor was one of the other few interpreters of the script of the Ugarites.
I owe a lot to Canon John but I shan't praise him here, merely to contrast to Fr Jerome Murphy O'Connor, who being a clan member of my former bishop was invited to give a clergy in service training course. JR could be described as a 'pastoral' scripture scholar and JMO'C an academic one, both loved scripture. Both were drenched in it, it was their life's blood, the air they breathed.
Canon John spent his life using scripture to reveal the glory of the mystery of salvation. He believed Jesus Christ and his promises to the Church, he saw his mission to build up faith, he certainly did not dismiss difficulties proposed by various texts.
JMO'C probably saw himself as a scientist rather than a pastor, I remember in his short course he dealt with the Transfiguration and Resurrection narratives which he dissected, speculating they owed more to the post-Pentecost 'experience' of the early Church rather than to the accurate remembering of the disciples. I remember some of our diocesan clergy being rather shocked and others delighted that they were somehow liberated from belief in an 'over-literal' interpretation of scripture.
I use these two men as a metaphor on the way in scripture or any other subjects can be taught. Moral theology, for example, can be taught, as it was taught me as a way of minimising morality, in style of David Lodge's 'How far can you go' but contrast the magnanimity of Pope John Paul II's teaching on love and sexuality compared to the meanness of say Charles Curran or many other academic 'Catholic' Moral theologians.
Comparing and contrasting Murphy O'Connor and Redford, one seems to address scripture as a phenomena to be studied, as one might study a virus whilst the other saw it as being the source of life.
May they both be given a merciful judgement and see God face to face.
REQUIESCANT IN PACE
Posted by Fr Ray Blake