Liberal scholar who brought historical analysis to Bible study
Xavier-Léon Dufour was one of the greatest liberal Bible scholars of the 20th century. As such, he often found himself at odds with the conservative Catholic hierarchy, not least with Pope Pius XII himself.This was the first I had heard of Dufour's death (but I now notice that it was announced in Bibbiablog a few weeks ago). I never met him but one of my great influences, John Ashton, was taught by him and often used to sing his praises.
Using historical and critical scholarship to challenge more fundamentalist approaches to the Bible was not, he insisted, to deny the divine element in the origin of Scripture. But the text as we have it today was written by men at specific periods of history.And a critical study of both the men and the history, Dufour maintained with passion, was vital to an understanding of the sacred text.
The new scholarship which had its origin in the work of 19th-century German Protestant scholars, met resistance both from the Catholic hierarchy and from parts of the Protestant establishment. Dufour himself was accused of seeking to deprive priests of their faith . . .