Biblical scholar Jesuit Father Joseph Fitzmyer dead at 96

Fr_FitzmyerLeading Catholic biblical scholar Father Joseph Fitzmyer, SJ died on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 in Philadelphia at the age of 96.

Born in Philadelphia in 1920 and ordained a Jesuit priest in 1951, Fr. Fitzmyer is probably best known for co-editing “The Jerome Biblical Commentary” and his contributions to the Anchor Bible Series.

An expert in the Aramaic language spoken by Christ and by many first-century Jews and Christians, the priest was noted for his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gospel of Luke. He did some of the initial work in the 1950s to prepare a concordance to the scrolls and was one of the first Americans to have direct access to the documents.

He founded the Institute on Sacred Scripture at Georgetown University, and he taught at a number of schools including the now-closed Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown, the University of Chicago, Fordham University, Boston College and The Catholic University of America.

A funeral Mass took place on Jan. 5 at St. Matthias Church in Bala Cynwyd, just outside Philadelphia, followed by a burial at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville.

For more on Fr. Fitzmyer’s death, click here for the America magazine posting (Dec. 24, 2016).