Thomas Brodie Not Fired

Thomas Brodie Not Fired January 26, 2013

After the sensational headline from last week, it seemed to some that the Dominican Biblical Institute had required Thomas Brodie to resign because of a book he wrote in which he claims that Jesus never existed: Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery.

A new article in The Limerick Leader challenges that claim, indicating that (1) the end of Brodie’s third term as director of the school was expected before the book came out, and he had not been expected to serve a fourth term (as even some of the earlier articles had acknowledged might be the case), and (2) a group of scholars will be appointed to look into his book, and if there is indeed a basis for controversy, Brodie will have the opportunity to present his case and defend himself.

What will eventually happen remains to be seen. But the hyped headline from last week suggests that certain things it claimed had happened have not happened – at least, not yet.


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  • Claude

    The Limerick Leader? How do we know this is a valid “news” source? It’s just some page on the internet that could have been thrown together last night by so-called New Testament “historians” to deflect attention from their ideological suppression of free critical inquiry! Only a person impervious to Logic would be so credulous as to believe that something called the Limerick Leader, a name obviously dreamed up by The Onion, could contain a shred of FACT. [long digression on FACTS redacted….] The Irish Sun, on the other hand, contains a grainy photograph of Fr. Brodie and is independently attested by 1) the sun and 2) Ireland. The truth of the matter is obvious.

    McGrath, you know this is a fraud yet with your typical intellectual dishonesty and cynical careerism you post this nonsense. I know you won’t even respond to my critique, because you haven’t got the methodologies.

  • Err, James, you obviously didn’t read the newspaper article I linked to and posted about. And I don’t think you even read the headline of my own post.

    My headline was “The Inevitable catches up with . . .Brodie”, and then I quoted the lead paragraph from the Irish Sun. I did not quote the entire artilce out of respect for IP but I did link to and urged readers to read it for themselves.

    Now that article in the Irish Sun itself refers to Father Gerard Norton who replaced Brodie at the institute himself said that Brodie has resigned at the end of his third term.

    Gosh, I don’t know. You don’t read Doherty’s book that you criticize, you don’t read the articles on Wikipedia that you endorse, and you don’t read the books on historical method or oral history that you quote-mine, and you don’t read the very article or headline that I myself posted on Vridar.

    But what was clear from the news in the Irish Sun — and from the book that he himself had published and about which all the fuss is happening (have you even read that?) — is that it is not possible for a teacher in such an institute to remain a teacher and publish mythicist views. You should be pleased with that.

    You failed to comprehend that the original article was addressing two positions of Brodie — one as director (which he resigned) and other teaching roles (from which he was suspended pending investigation).

    Neither I nor the Irish Sun said he was sacked. The Irish Sun did say he was “forced to quit” thus linking his resignation to the publicaion of his mythicist views. It also said that he was forced out of any teaching positions (he had resigned from his Director role). Do you doubt any connection?

    But as for sensationalist headlines, can anyone beat your headline claim that I endorse “divination” all on the strength of a verb I quoted from Prevenier and Howell, the primary meaning of which, according to the Webster dictionary, is “to infer”?

  • Brettongarcia

    Vridar Neil AND Dr. McGrath:

    As far as I’m concerned, “all have sinned” – and especially you two!  (But not me of course).

    Didn’t BOTH of you endorse this History text?  The one that supports “divination”? 

    Granted, this term has a double meaning; and in one definition, it merely means “inference.” 

    Still, personally, I’m a very firm, POST-Poststructuralist supporter of Science.  My position is that not only religious “history,” but also much of secular History as well,  has long since departed much too far from scientifically-provable facts.  Both of them have gone much too far into “divination” in EVERY sense. 

    For that reason among others, I’m consistently supporting a “science of” religious study and history.  As opposed to what we currently see in “historical” study.

    Which oddly enough, both of you might support.   Since technically, both of you support Science.

  • I personally have no idea whether the Limerick Leader is a more reliable source than the Irish Sun, but as far as I can tell from the post, neither does Dr. McGrath.  Is it sound historical methodology to simply pick the source which supports one’s preferred narrative and declare it to be the truth?

    • Everyone knows that newspapers with “Sun” in the title are sensationalist tabloids! 😉

      I hope I was just reporting. The earlier report largely said the same thing as the later one, but spun it with speculation. And so it sounds like they actually both agree that Brodie’s stepping down was planned beforehand and thus has nothing to do with the book.

      Of course, that is the criterion of multiple attestation, and so mythicists may not agree with my reasoning. 🙂

      • The Irish Sun claims to have seen documents indicating that Brodie was “banned from any lecturing, teaching or writing while a probe is under way” and to have a well placed source who indicates that Brodie “was asked to step aside from his ministry and the Provincial Council unanimously backed that decision.”   That sounds like evidence to me rather than speculation.

        • I wonder if you are assuming that I have a different view about this case than I do. I ended my post with “not yet” because I do not expect that, when the probe is carried out, the church authorities will approve of what Brodie says. And I abhor any and all attempts to censor academics for their legitimate scholarly research. Brodie did exactly what he ought to have, writing up his conclusions and arguments for the scholarly community to assess and evaluate and interact with. If Brodie worked at a secular university, I doubt that the administration of his institution would have felt any need to investigate, much less censure. My point in this post was simply to indicate that a new article had appeared which suggested that some things were still yet to occur rather than being likely to have already occurred. I thought that my views on religiously-affiliated educational institutions and research were clear from past posts on the topoc.

          • Dr. McGrath,

            I have no doubt whatsoever that you are appalled by the idea of a respected scholar being subjected to censure based on theological considerations.  On the other hand, I think you are probably also aware that if the Irish Sun story is accurate, it is going be of wonderful propaganda value to the mythicists who insist that the mainstream consensus is not nearly as strong as it appears because many scholars are afraid to voice their doubts about the historicity of Jesus.   

            I wonder if you noticed what strikes me as a classic non sequitur in the Limerick Leader article:

            The Irish Sun reported this week that Fr Brodie had been forced to quit his teaching job and banned from lecturing while his writings were being investigated.

            But Fr Treacy said that Fr Brodie had “already done three terms and was never going to serve a fourth” as director of the institute.

  • If the 

  • Brettongarcia

    My guess:  Brodie wears lots of hats.  He will be 1) stepping down as head of the institute where he has administrative duties; and 2) will  he is currently banned from lecturing too, at the institute, and/or nearby colleges (including a real college of Limrick).   There is some evidence he is also 3) suspended from ministry. 

    So at least three of his main duties are apparently in limbo.

    Since we are dealing with secondary sources though,  I think some one of us, with a regular blog or high-visibility Facebook side etc., should try to contact Brodie directly by e-mail; and/or a spokesman or superior among the Dominicans, and/or the diocese of Limrick, Ireland.  Ask if anyone would like to make a statement  – or even a defining non-statement – on one of our blogs.

  • Ian

    Well, regardless of the quality of his scholarship, one assumes it isn’t easy to remain in Dominican teaching ministry if one does not think Jesus was a historical figure.

    Its a slightly different situation, I think, to folks who take teaching jobs at evangelical institutions, and then fall foul of the statement of faith. One assumes you become a Dominican monk for reasons other than just it being a teaching job!

    … and interesting to see Fr Norton mentioned – he taught me Hebrew, a really lovely guy.

  • Erp

    According to Wikipedia both are tabloid press.  The Irish Sun being the Irish edition of The Sun (a well known Murdoch newspaper) and the Limerick Leader being a long established newspaper with a circulation of over 20,000 (Limerick is a fairly good size city in Ireland).    

    • I remembered The Sun being a tabloid from when I lived in Dublin, as well as in the UK. I never lived in Limerick and so I didn’t know the other one. It sounds like we should take what both say with a grain of salt, perhaps?