While I was on vacation the news broke that Cardinal Albert Vanhoye passed away on July 29. Vanhoye was one of the most prolific Hebrews scholars and his work on the structure of Hebrews would prove to be most influential. I want to thank Nick Moore for preparing the following bio and selected bibliography for this blog:
In memoriam Albert Vanhoye (1923–2021)
Albert Vanhoye was born on 24 July 1923 in
Hazebrouck, in the far north of France, the second of five children in a devout
Roman Catholic family of Flemish extraction. He joined the Society of Jesus in
1941; this was during the German occupation of France in the Second World War,
and Vanhoye had to cross the demarcation line clandestinely in order to reach
the noviciate. He spent brief spells in the chantier
de jeunesse (the replacement for military service in Vichy France) and in
the French Army following the Allied landings. After the War he completed his
studies in literature at the Sorbonne, and went on to study philosophy at
Vals-près-le-Puy and theology at Enghien in Belgium. At the completion of his
training he was ordained priest, on 25 July 1954. He taught New Testament for a
short period in Chantilly, at the Jesuit scholasticate recently relocated from
Enghien. He completed a doctorate in sacred scripture at the Pontifical
Biblical Institute in Rome in 1961, on the structure of the Letter to the Hebrews,
which was to form the basis for his published work on this topic. In 1963 he
began to teach at the Pontifical Institute, where he would spend the rest of
his career. He was Dean of the Biblical Faculty there from 1969–1975, and
Rector of the Institute from 1984–1990. Alongside his work at the Institute,
Vanhoye had teaching responsibilities at the Pontifical Gregorian University
and the Pontifical Lateran University, and supervised a number of doctoral
students. He retired in 1998 at the age of 75.
Among his ecclesiastical appointments and
responsibilities, Vanhoye was part of the commission which prepared the
Apostolic Constitution Sapientia
Christiana (1979), on
ecclesiastical universities and faculties. He was a member and for two
terms secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission; during his first term of
office the Commission published L’Interprétation de la Bible dans l’Église (1993;
English version The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, issued
1994), an important and well received document open to Catholic engagement with
the full variety of interpretative methods being used in biblical studies. He
was also Consultor of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
(1980–1996), and a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In the scholarly community Vanhoye joined
the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas in 1964, and served as its President in
1995. His presidential address was subsequently published in New Testament Studies and is included as
the third essay in this volume. He served on the editorial board of the journal
Biblica from 1969, and was editor from 1978 until he stepped down from
the board in 1984. In later life he was appointed Cardinal, with as his titular
church the Deaconry of Santa Maria della Mercede and Sant’Adriano in Villa
Albani. This was in 2006, when he was over 80 and therefore excluded from an
elective conclave of the College of Cardinals, and thus the appointment was
purely honorific, and Vanhoye was not consecrated bishop. The further honorific
pro hac vice (temporary) elevation of the Deaconry of Santa Maria della
Mercede and Sant’Adriano to a presbyteral title – and thus of Vanhoye to
Cardinal-Priest – took place in 2016. In 2008 he led the Lenten retreat for the
Roman Curia, using the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and focussing on the theme
of Jesus as High Priest. Vanhoye was the oldest member of the College of
Cardinals, having turned 98 just days before his death in Rome on 29 July 2021.
The nature of Vanhoye’s appointments
reflects a lengthy and distinguished career in which he has made a significant
contribution to the life of both the church and the academy. This is reflected
by his numerous publications in several European languages, across eight
decades, and at both scholarly and more popular levels. Among numerous
publications on Hebrews he made notable contributions on the letter’s structure
and on its portrayal of priesthood, as well as writing two commentaries on the
letter in later life.
[This tribute includes material excerpted
and modified from the introduction to Albert Vanhoye, A Perfect Priest: Studies in the Letter to the Hebrews, ed. and
trans. by Nicholas J. Moore and Richard J. Ounsworth (WUNT II/477; Mohr
Siebeck, Tübingen: 2018)]
Selected publicationsVanhoye, Albert. 1963a. La Structure littéraire
de l’Épître aux Hébreux. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer.
———. 1963c. Traduction structurée de l’Epître
aux Hébreux. Rome: Institut biblique pontifical.
———. 1964c. Structured Translation of the
Epistle to the Hebrews. Translated by James Swetnam. Rome: Pontifical
———. 1967b. Structure and Theology of the
Accounts of the Passion in the Synoptic Gospels. Collegeville, MN:
———. 1969a. Le Christ est notre prêtre.
Supplément à ‘Vie chrétienne’ no. 118. Paris.
———. 1969c. Situation du Christ : Hébreux 1–2.
———. 1976a. La Structure littéraire de l’Épître
aux Hébreux. 2nd edn. Stud-Neot 1. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer.
———. 1977b. Le Message de l’Épître aux Hébreux.
Cahiers Évangile 19. Paris: Cerf.
———. 1977c. Our Priest Is Christ: The Doctrine
of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Translated by M. Innocentia Richards. Rome:
Pontifical Biblical Institute.
———. 1980. Prêtres anciens, prêtre nouveau selon
le Nouveau Testament. Parole de Dieu 20. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.
———. 1986. Old Testament Priests and the New
Priest: According to the New Testament. Translated by J. Bernard Orchard.
Petersham, MA: St Bede’s Publications.
———. 1989. Structure and Message of the Epistle
to the Hebrews. Translated by James Swetnam. Subsidia Biblica 12. Rome:
Editrice Pontificio Istituto biblico.
———. 2005. Le Don du Christ: Lecture spirituelle.
Christus. Paris: Bayard.
———. 2008. Accogliamo Cristo nostro sommo sacerdote :
esercizi spirituali predicati in Vaticano, 10-16 febbraio 2008. Vatican
City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
———. 2010b. L’Epistola agli Ebrei : “un
sacerdote diverso.” Translated by Carlo Valentino. Bologna: Dehoniane.
———. 2010c. L’Épître aux Hébreux : “un prêtre
différent.” Pendé: Gabalda.
———. 2010d. Let Us Confidently Welcome Christ
Our High Priest: Spiritual Exercises with Pope Benedict XVI. Translated by
Joel Wallace. Leominster: Gracewing.
———. 2011a. A Different Priest: The Epistle to
the Hebrews. Translated by Leo Arnold. Rhetorica Semitica. Miami:
———. 2011b. I carismi nel Nuovo Testamento.
Analecta biblica 191. Rome: Gregorian & Biblical Press.
———. 2015. The Letter to the Hebrews: A New
Commentary. Translated by Leo Arnold. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.