It’s now been 12 years since I defended my thesis on Genesis 2:4–3:24 in Rome, and ten years since I completed my foreseen sojourn as a permanent chaplain at the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes, France. It seems I am to be damned because of that thesis. What’s in the thesis is criminal according to the prevailing political correctness. Let me play Saint Jerome and rant about this a bit:
- I am to be damned because this thesis sets up a dialogue between the Holy See and Israel such as has never been seen before, blowing out of the water as irrelevant all previous dialogue, and that’s according to the chief rabbi for dialogue with the Holy See, who spoke to me at length in the King David Hotel about setting up such a dialogue. Why did he say that? Because the thesis actually takes religious matters seriously, and not as a flippant occasion to make ever so magnanimous and therefore condescending dialogue that all sides despise but tolerate for the sake of the curriculum vitae involved. What has taken place up to this point with dialogue initiatives are “themes”, which, of course, are an invitation to do up manipulation of religion for whatever motivation one wants at the time. The thesis is disturbing as it inescapably places all parties before the inspired text.
- I am to be damned because of the brutally unrelenting and inescapable scientific analysis of the text – with an emphasis on historical philology reaching into cuneiform impressions – which analysis leaves no wiggle room for escape into more comfortable reading of self into the text. That latter bit of merely reading oneself into the text is an affront against the Holy Spirit, who wants to introduce us to The Word of God, and does not want us to replace The Word of God.
- I am to be damned most of all because by the time the analysis runs its course, all that which is Jewish is all that which is Catholic, or better, all that which is Catholic is all that which is Jewish. Jesus said “Salvation is of the Jews.” Saint Paul says: “I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kin according to the flesh. They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;
theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:1-5) Just because Catholics and Jews call each other brothers doesn’t mean we are leading each other to Auschwitz. No. We stand together, also in Auschwitz. Count the priests who were exterminated with our brother Jews. So very many.
- But even more than this, I am to be damned as it is demonstrated from the Hebrew text just how it is that the transmission of original sin is by propagation, not by imitation. This drives all involved around the bend. Why? This sets up the need for redemption, for the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, the One who is to come into the world, and has come, and will come again to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen. Everyone hates that. And this has never been done before. It has up to this very day been mocked as childish myth. “Original sin is an invention by those damned Fathers of the Church”, they say. So, let me repeat that: everyone hates the demonstration in the text of how it is that original sin is by propagation, not imitation. It’s never been done. The hatred one encounters is so very great. Truly. In all my years in Rome and Jerusalem I didn’t meet even one academic actively teaching who accepted the reality of original sin. Not one. Not even one. Instead, I was mocked and ridiculed at every turn. Fully six Pontifical Universities were closely examining the progress of the thesis, chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph. They all knew what it meant to have such a demonstration. Not one, no one, could come up with arguments against what is provided in the thesis. And this is over years.
- But even more, this brings us to the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of the Redeemer in Genesis 3:15, she who is apart from original sin, and that, my friends, it is the final motivation of why I should most of all be damned, for the thesis and a subsequent conference demonstrate how it is that she is free from original sin, that is, immaculate. There is much hating on Jewish Jesus, but even more at who is considered a soft target, His Immaculate Mother. But why this rage from anyone?
As one Rabbi, perhaps the most famous in the world said to me after reading the thesis: The problem is that, you know, we rabbis, we don’t look at the Scriptures as any kind of primary text. They are historical creations of the communities of their day. We look to other things, you know, rabbinic exhortations and the like, through the centuries and we use religion in conjunction with the politics of the day to get what is needful at the time. And that attitude is parroted entirely and wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm by those in the upper echelon of the Catholic hierarchy and generally the machine of dialogue. It’s gotta be all about us, not God dealing with us, only us alone, all relative to us: damned be anything else; damned be those who would have us look to God; damn you, Father Byers!
Here’s a PDF of the thesis. Note that footnote number one, as published and as it stands in the volume in the general stacks of the Genesis section of the general stacks of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, needs severe revision. I’ve only understood more recently all that which Jacques Marie Vosté, O.P., was getting at. That note has been revised in the PDF of this link below. Explicating that note, as I say elsewhere, is my next life project. That will, please God, be published as a volume all on it’s own. I am now indebted to Vosté for his gentlemanly sarcasm.
To those who are interested in citing these, do it with full references. You’ll be black-listing yourselves. But – Hey! – that’s the only way to more forward with the truth, indeed, with Him who is the Living Truth, about whom the thesis was written. That truth will one day be seen, “videbitur”, as it is said. That’s a “not yet”. But it will come about. The thesis was only privately published according to the rules of the University. The PIB is afraid to publish it. That fact alone requires a volume all on its own.