February 17, 2022

Dear friends,

I was just rereading my words from the previous LRI Bulletin, in which I spoke of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. From this vantage point, such words feel boorishly naive. Since that bulletin, we’ve been afflicted with the Omicron variant, which set back reopening plans and indeed sent us back into various levels of lock down. And even now, as some restrictions are easing again, I suspect that collectively there’s a growing anticipation of further setbacks in the future. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that come September, 2022, we can again resume at least some in-person meeting.

The above being said, not all is gloom and doom. There are in fact some quite exciting things happening in the LRI’s orbit. Most notably: Regis College—our key academic partner—is entering into federation with the Faculty of the Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College. There is very good reason for such a federation. Regis and St. Mike’s are of course both member colleges of the Toronto School of Theology, and also both affiliated with the University of Toronto. Indeed, we are located physically on the same block. Federation will cement an already close relationship, and allow us to more effectively operate as a Catholic faculty of higher education within one of Canada’s leading universities. And although any such transformation inevitably brings with it uncertainty and risk, I am fully confident that it will create important new opportunities for not only Regis and St. Michael’s but also the Lonergan Research Institute.

There is a further consolation, a more personal one: my third book—Rethinking the Dates of the New Testament—will (God willing) be published May 3 of this year. This is personally a milestone achievement. This will constitute only the second academic monograph focused fully upon the dates of the entire New Testament to be completed since the Victorian era (John A.T. Robinson’s 1976 volume, Redating the New Testament, being the other. There’s also J.V.M. Sturdy’s posthumously published work, Redrawing the Boundaries, but this was left incomplete at the time of his death). Although explicit engagement with Lonerganian thought is limited in my Rethinking the Dates of the New Testament—due of course to its specific focus—I could never have brought this work to what I consider to be a satisfactory conclusion without that which I learned from Bernard Lonergan, Ben F. Meyer, and others. With this in mind, on Friday, 25 March, at 2 pm, I will present at the Lonergan Seminar a paper entitled “Critical Realism and New Testament Chronology.” The aim of this paper will be to spell out what is largely implicit through Rethinking: that insofar as it was Lonergan more than any other who taught me how to be attentive, intelligent, and reasonable, this work is very much the fruits of the Lonerganian project. And as I always, I remain forever grateful for the support of Regis College, the Lonergan Research Institute, and the broader Lonerganian community, as I worked on this project (especially given the difficulties of bringing such a work to completion during a pandemic which often limited physical access to research libraries).

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