Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bernard Orchard: Obituaries

The death of Dom. Bernard Orchard was reported in Hypotyposeis last week, following on from a note on Synoptic-L from Peter Head pointing to The Times Obituary of 5 December. I met Dom Orchard once, at the SNTS Meeting in Birmingham in 1997. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to attend his short paper at that meeting because I was run off my feet with organizing things, and our second daughter had just been born.

There is also a full obituary in The Independent from 6 December, written by Hugh O'Shaughnessy:

Dom Bernard Orchard
Monk and twice headmaster who transformed Ealing Priory School into the modern St Benedict's
Orchard, by nature a conservative and uncomfortable with some of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, devoted the rest of his life at the abbey to scriptural scholarship which allowed him to continue expressing forthright views with passion, even combativeness. For instance, defending the traditional teaching that St Matthew's gospel antedated St Mark's, in the US Catholic magazine This Rock in 1996 he commented with characteristic tartness,
It has been unfortunate that the combination of an exhilarating freedom to pursue historical criticism with church approval and the reassuring support of the prestigious faculties of the German and American universities has convinced the Markan Priorists that they cannot be wrong.
The Old Priorian Association has a PDF obituary here:

R.I.P. John Bernard Orchard

The Telegraph obituary of 8 December is here:

Dom Bernard Orchard
. . . . His scholarly work was not deeply original, and his judgment was sometimes questioned. But he had a gift for organising, stimulating and coordinating scholars to produce research of lasting value. As chairman of the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain he ruled with headmasterly severity for decades.

Orchard edited A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (1953), the first one-volume Catholic commentary since the opening out of biblical studies after Pope Pius XII's encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu. With Fr Reginald Fuller, he set about providing Catholics with an accurate modern translation of the Bible. They obtained the copyright holders' permission to adapt and amend the American Revised Standard Version, and produced an edition that Catholics could use in the liturgy and biblical studies, though it took 10 years before the RSV-Catholic Edition was published with an imprimatur . . . .

. . . . During six years in Rome he became the founder and chairman of the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate, and acted as spiritual director of the Beda College. He published his Synopsis of the Four Gospels, in English and Greek editions. With Professor William Farmer of Dallas and Professor TRW Longstaff he wrote papers and inspired international conferences aimed at reviving the 18th-century theory that the first synoptic gospel to be written was Matthew, followed by Luke and finally Mark.

At one stage no biblical conference in the British Isles seemed complete without this tall, strong, silver-haired figure, who also lectured on his theory so widely abroad that some wondered if he did not like being in his monastery. But he remained true to his community, and from 1981 was the titular cathedral prior of Canterbury . . . .

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