Thomas L. Brodie
|Fr Thomas L. Brodie, OP, STD,|
|Education||STD (Doctorate in Sacred Theology)|
|Alma mater||Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas|
|Occupation||Priest and author|
He was born in Crusheen, County Clare.
Brodie earned his STD at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome in 1988, at the age of 48. He has taught Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament in various institutions across the United States and in South Africa, including the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.
Brodie has written a number of books about the Bible, with emphases on the Gospel of John, Genesis and the narratives of Elijah and Elisha. He has most frequently been published by Oxford University Press and Sheffield Phoenix Press.
Christ mythicism and sanctions
His 2012 book Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery caused controversy when Brodie endorsed the Christ myth theory and expressed that Jesus of Nazareth was not a historical figure, a belief he reports he has held since the 1970s.
Following the publication of the book and revelations of his belief that Jesus did not exist, The Irish Sun reported in January 2013 that Brodie had been forced to quit his teaching job and banned from lecturing while his writings were being investigated. The final judgement of the Dominican Order on the matter was published in their periodical Doctrine and Life in May–June 2014:
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus
Official Dominican Response to a Controversial Book
In September 2012, Fr Thomas L. Brodie, O.P., of the Irish Province, published Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus. In this ‘Memoir of a Discovery’, the author, already well-respected for his commentaries on the Gospel of John and for his study, The Birthing of the New Testament, stated categorically that his studies proved that Jesus did not exist as a historical person. He had expected that reviewers or commentators would understand from his earlier works that this was the position he had held since the 1970s. But there had been no such recognition; and the time, he believed, had come to state his views bluntly. Because this claim was so much at odds with Christian tradition, in November 2012, the Prior Provincial of Ireland, Fr Gregory Carroll, O.P., instructed that, while the controversy about the book was being addressed, Tom Brodie must withdraw from all ministry and from any teaching or writing, or contacting the media. Co-incidentally, at about the same time Tom Brodie resigned from being moderator and director of the Dominican Biblical Institute Limerick. This move was not because of the book but because, having already served three four-year terms in the post, he did not wish to enter on a fourth term (two terms in any post is the norm for Dominicans).
Also in November 2012, the Provincial implemented the Order’s own internal ‘Procedure for Controversies Arising from Public Statement of the Brothers’, part of the Order’s ‘General Plan for Studies’ (Ratio Studiorum Generalis). Under this Procedure, the Provincial set up a committee of five experts from within the Province to examine the work under dispute. After providing Tom Brodie with written copies of their assessments of Beyond the Quest, and having received a written response from him, the committee spent a morning discussing the work with him.
Following on these deliberations the committee advised that they judged Beyond the Quest to be ‘imprudent and dangerous’ (a phrase from the Order’s own legislation). Accepting this assessment, the Provincial continued the sanctions on Tom Brodie – that he withdraw fully from ministry and from all forms of teaching, writing, or making public statements.
In July 2013, the theology magazine, Doctrine & Life, from Dominican Publications, published assessments of Tom Brodie’s book, from the pens of four internationally recognised scholars – biblical specialists Seán Freyne, Jerome Murphy-O’Connor and Gerard Norton, and theologian Fergus Kerr. The editorial in that issue explained, ‘the Irish Dominicans have put in place the procedures in the Order’s legislation for handling cases of disputed teaching’ and that the process must remain confidential until it had concluded.
By that time, the internal Dominican constitutional process had moved on from the level of the Irish Province. On 17 May 2013, at the request of Tom Brodie, Fr Gregory Carroll, Prior Provincial, referred the matter to the Master of the Order, its worldwide head. This move was in line with the ‘Procedures for Controversies’ in the Order’s internal administrative structures. On 29 August 2013, the Master, Fr Bruno Cadoré, appointed a committee to examine the book and report to him. This committee, made up of three professors from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, had the Master’s Assistant for the Intellectual Life, Fr Michael Mascari, as non-voting chairman. The members of this committee provided the author with written assessments of Beyond the Quest, and received from him a written response. On 20 February 2014, the committee had a two-hour meeting in Fribourg with Tom Brodie to discuss their reports and his response. Following this meeting the committee formally advised the Master that the publication was ‘imprudent and dangerous’, the standard set out in the legislation of the Order, and recommended that the sanctions imposed on Thomas Brodie by the Province of Ireland were appropriate.
In a letter dated 3 March 2014, Fr Bruno Cadoré concurred with the judgement of the committee and instructed that the sanctions already in place be maintained.
Despite the restrictions placed on him, Tom Brodie remains a brother of the Irish Province, and the Province continues to care for him and provide for him. From the point of view of the Order, the matter is closed.
- The Quest for the Origin of John's Gospel: A Source-Oriented Approach Oxford University Press, USA (January 14, 1993) ISBN 0195075889
- The Gospel According to John: A Literary and Theological Commentary Oxford University Press, USA (November 27, 1997) ISBN 0195118111
- The Crucial Bridge: The Elijah-Elisha Narrative Michael Glazier (January 1, 2000) ISBN 081465942X
- Genesis As Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, and Theological Commentary Oxford University Press, USA (August 16, 2001) ISBN 0195138368
- The Birthing of the New Testament: The Intertextual Development of the New Testament Writings (New Testament Monographs) Sheffield Phoenix Press Ltd (June 6, 2006) ISBN 1905048661
- Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery Sheffield Phoenix Press (September 6, 2012) ISBN 190753458X