Twenty-fifth International Theological Symposium

The University of Navarre’s 25th International Theological Symposium was dedicated to the theme “Sacred Scripture: the ever-relevant Word.” The symposium, held in Pamplona from April 21 to 23, was directed both to theologians and those interested in Biblical studies.

More than a hundred people attended the conferences given by speakers from various universities in Europe and the Near East. One well-known speaker was Jean-Michel Poffet, OP, Director of the French Biblical School of Jerusalem. As its organizer, Professor Gonzalo Aranda, explained, the symposium had as its aims “to reflect on the fact that the Sacred Books, though documents of the past, are contemporaneous with all epochs in the Church,” and “to highlight the Bible’s continuing influence in various sectors of culture, and to explain in so far as possible the reasons for this.”

Professor Aranda reminded his listeners that “the Bible is the most widely distributed book throughout the world. Few families in western civilization are without a copy. Often the Bible is valued for its antiquity, for its moral teachings, and for the history that it narrates. But for the Christian, the Bible should be and is something more. It is the instrument through which one hears today what God tells us about himself and his acting in human history. The reader is invited to become a protagonist in the narrative, which is oriented towards a very hopeful end for man and for the world, symbolically described in the final book of the Bible, the Apocalypse.”

The conferences were organized according to three different ways in which the Sacred Books can be studied: as literary texts, as shapers of the Church’s faith and liturgy, and as an impelling force in Christian spirituality.

Among those taking part in the opening ceremony were Professor Manuel Casado, Vice-rector of the University of Navarre, and Professor Francisco Varo, dean of the School of Theology. The first session focused on the Bible’s presence in literature, art and the theater. Lecturers were Professors Miguel Angel Garrido, from the Committee for Advanced Scientific Research in Madrid; Jean-Michel Poffet, O.P., Director of the French Biblical School of Jerusalem; Enrique Banus, Director of European Studies at the University of Navarre, and Juan Orellana, from the School of Humanities and Communication in the San Pablo-CEU University in Madrid.

The second day of the symposium confronted such topics as Sacred Scripture and the formulation of the faith; the influence of Sacred Scripture on the liturgy; the Bible in the configuration of Judaism and in the first centuries of Christianity. Presenting papers were Professors Ermenegildo Manicardi, President of the Academy of Theological Studies in Bologna; Juan Chapa, Professor of the School of Theology in the University of Navarre; Miguel Perez, President of the Spanish Association of Hebraic and Judaic Studies; Marcelo Merino, Professor of the School of Theology in the University of Navarre; and Paul O’Callaghan, Dean of the School of Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

The final day was centered on Sacred Scripture’s influence on liturgical spirituality, as well as its repercussions for moral theology and Christian conduct. Taking part in the sessions were Professor Bernardo Estrada, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; Professor Alfredo Lopez-Vallejos, Director of the Delegation for Ecumenism and Interreligious Relations of the Archdiocese of Pamplona; and Theodoro Lopez, Professor of the School of Theology in the University of Navarre.

The closing conference, “The Bible in the Writings of St. Josemaria Escriva,” was given by Professor Francisco Varo, dean of the School of Theology at Navarre, the organizer of the symposium. Professor Varo said that “for St. Josemaria the Gospel is a book that allows one to view deeds of the past which are still active in the present and which the reader is called upon to involve himself in, listening attentively to the words directed to him. St. Josemaria,” he added, “didn’t approach the Bible like a researcher entering a room full of antiquities. When reading the texts he didn’t limit himself to reconstructing past times. On the contrary, he strove to make them come alive and to insert them fully into the cultural and religious debate of each moment.”

The dean concluded by pointing out that for St. Josemaria “Jesus is not merely a person to be admired, whom only a creative imagination could reconstruct amidst the archeological remains of more than two thousand years. Rather He is the risen Christ, who lives now and seeks in our day and age disciples who will live and work at his side, men and women who, identified with Christ, can make him present in the world.”

Romana, n. 38, January-June 2004, p. 86-87.

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