Joseph Blenkinsopp, requiescat in pace

We learned this week of the death of Professor Joseph Blenkinsopp, one of the towering figures of Catholic biblical scholarship. The Catholic Biblical Association of America posted the following tribute:

We mourn the death of Prof. Joseph Blenkinsopp (April 3, 1927 – March 26, 2022), the John A. O’Brien Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies in the Theology Department at the University of Notre Dame. After earning a Sacrae Scripturae Licentiatum (S.S.L.) at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, and a D.Phil. in Hebrew Bible & Semitics at the University of Oxford, Joe went on to teach at Notre Dame, beginning in 1970.He served on and chaired CBA committees, and served as an associate editor for the Catholic Biblical Quarterly (CBQ) (1978-81, 1990-97), as a CBA Visiting Professor at the Biblicum (1997-98), and as CBA President (1988-89).Joe was the recipient of an Association of Theological Schools (ATS) research grant (1978); a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to be a fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford (1982-83); and an emeritus research grant from the Mellon Foundation (2005-06). He excavated at Tel Dan (1977) and Capernaum (1980-87, with the support of Notre Dame), and also served as interim rector at Tantur Ecumenical Institute (1978). Joe was also active in the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL); in the Society For Old Testament Study (SOTS), which he served as president (2000); and in the European Association of Biblical Studies. Before taking his post at Notre Dame, Joe taught Scripture at an international center for theological studies at Melchet Court, England (he was born in Durham, England); in Guatemala City; at Heythrop College, University of London; at Vanderbilt University; at Chicago Theological Seminary; and at Hartford International University. Our deepest sympathies to all colleagues, friends, and family, and especially to Jean.

Learn more about his life in his obituary:

Joseph Blenkinsopp, 94, of South Bend, Indiana, passed away on Saturday morning, March 26, at Wedgewood Pines Assisted Living Facility. Joe was born on April 3, 1927 in County Durham, England to William and Mary Blenkinsopp. At the age of 11, he was sent to boarding school in County Cheshire. He went on to study at the University of London and the Biblical Institute in Rome, before earning a Ph.d in Biblical Studies at Oxford University in 1967. Over the course of a long academic career, he taught in England, Italy, and Guatemala, and a number of institutions in the United States, including Chicago Theological Seminary, Hartford Seminary Foundation, and Vanderbilt University. He joined the faculty of the University of Notre Dame in 1970, and shortly thereafter he was named the John A. O’Brien Professor of Biblical Studies. He retired from Notre Dame in 1999, but continued to pursue his academic interests through writing, scholarly conferences, and occasional teaching until almost the end of his life. He was Rector of the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem in 1978, and a guest professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1998. He was a past president of the Catholic Biblical Association (1988-1989) and the Society for the Study of the Old Testament (1999-2000), as well as a recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Institute. He is generally regarded as one of the foremost scholars of his generation in the field of Hebrew Bible studies. He was the author of more than twenty-five books and numerous articles, including A History of Prophecy in Israel and The Pentateuch, both considered to be standard treatments of their subjects, and a three volume Anchor Bible commentary on the Book of Isaiah. His last book, Luke’s Jesus: Between Incarnation and Crucifixion was published in October, 2021. At the same time, his distinguished scholarly career represents only one aspect of his life. A life-long Catholic, he combined rigorous historical scholarship with deep faith, and taught by his example that faith and learning are not incompatible. He was alive to life’s ironies, but his sense of humor was warm and playful, never cynical or unkind. A generous and hospitable man, he loved to entertain. He was an avid gardener and he faithfully provided seed for, in his words, “the local bird community.” In addition, he enjoyed opera, art and travel. Above all, he was a warm and loving husband, father, and friend, who touched innumerable lives with his deep kindness and his care for others. He will be deeply missed. His first marriage to Irene Blenkinsopp ended in divorce. His wife Jean Porter survives him, as do his sons, David Blenkinsopp and Martin Blenkinsopp (Ann Robinson), and his grandson, Graham Blenkinsopp. He is preceded in death by his parents and by two sisters, Vera Pearson and Winifred Tinsdale.

Visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Saturday, April 2, 2022 in Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 N. Bendix Drive, South Bend, IN, followed by a Catholic Funeral Service at 11:00 a.m. in the funeral home chapel. Burial will follow in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Notre Dame, IN.

The family would like to extend special thanks to the staff of Wedgewood Pines, whose warm and competent care made Joe’s last months not only safe, but happy. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to Catholic Charities USA, Hope Rescue Mission, or South Bend Center for the Homeless.

Many of his works are available in Verbum, including The Pentateuch and his three volume commentary on Isaiah for the Anchor Yale Bible.

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