I put on well over 500 miles in the past couple of days, hospitals, burials and such. Happy to do it. And all these miles were a good opportunity to grieve. Before starting out on my travelling saga, news came in that a good friend and fellow Scripture Scholar, Doctor Martin L. Brenner, passed on survived by his lovely wife and nine children. His obituary was written by our common friend, Father Reto Nay, director of Gloria.Tv. Don Reto got his summa cum laude at the Biblicum writing about Ezekiel, who, I am convinced, wrote the passage I myself wrote about, Genesis 2:4-3:24. Marty, instead, went to the New Testament, and wrote about the Synoptic Gospels, the passage on the paralytic, comparing Matthew and Mark and noting what was happening in the book of Daniel. He and I thought much the same about the provenance and purpose of the two Gospels.
It’s somewhat imprecise to say that he converted, but that’s how we speak, isn’t it? He grew up in a Jewish family, became a son of the law, but had the veil lifted when, as it is said, he recognized that it was all true, salvation comes from the Jews, and the name of that saving Messiah is Jesus. He was for a long time interested in religious life but finally made the decision to be married. I wasn’t there for the wedding, but he at least had it planned, I know, to be celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica and witnessed by a common friend, Father James Swetnam, S.J. (a really cool Jesuit, by the way).
I have often cited Martin’s rather rambunctious style of academic discussions, argumentative, pushing, shoving (metaphorically), out to “kill the baby” as he frighteningly put it. Don’t get me wrong, Martin was wonderfully, tenderly pro-life in every way. He wanted myself and others to see if we could attack his ideas to try and find lacunae in his premises. I learned this from him. I’ve often used this method. I did use it for the years writing my thesis, really being obnoxious about it, making it a million times better. But I learned that not everyone is ready for this. You have to train them in. But once there, it is spectacularly thrilling.
Martin had a passion for the truth. No political correctness for him! My prayer is now that he will meet face to face with the Living Truth, Jesus Christ, Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception.
P.S. Many friends have died this past year. They say you know you are getting older when all your friends start dying. Of course, Marty was 18 years older than myself, but I think those are the years that go by the fastest, are they not?