THE Dominican order insisted this week that a biblical scholar has not been removed from his teaching position in Limerick for disputing the existence of Jesus Christ as a historical figure.
The order said that Fr Tom Brodie had already stepped down from his position as director of the Dominican Biblical Institute before a controversial book he published got him into trouble with his superiors.
Fr Brodie’s book - Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery - is currently being “reviewed by a committee of scholars”, Fr Brendan Treacy said this week.
The Irish Sun reported this week that Fr Brodie had been forced to quit his teaching job and banned from lecturing while his writings were being investigated.
But Fr Treacy said that Fr Brodie had “already done three terms and was never going to serve a fourth” as director of the institute.
But in a statement released this week, the order said “The Irish Dominicans take seriously the contents of the book, notably the author’s conclusion that “Jesus did not exist as a historical figure”. This Father Brodie sees as flowing necessarily from his tracing the literary background to the New Testament .
“The Irish Dominicans are following the process within the Order’s Constitutions for handling disputed teaching. This involves a committee of scholars examining the book and reporting on it. In their examination and in their report the author has a right to present his views. This process is still ongoing, and remains confidential until it has concluded. The Irish Dominicans intend, in coming months, to publish reviews and assessments of Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus in their magazine Doctrine & Life.”
Fr Brodie is a native of Crusheen, County Clare, and travelled the world studying and teaching the Bible before returning to the Mid-West to help set up the Dominican Biblical Institute, which opened in 2007, having cost €5 million.
It offers a range of programmes in biblical studies, boasts a huge library and regularly holds lectures and religious events.