Beatrice Holds Joseph Chair

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Pier Franco Beatrice, an associate professor of early Christian literature at the University of Padua in Italy, has joined the Boston College faculty for the 1998-99 academic year as the new Joseph Chair in Catholic Theology.

Established in 1994 by an anonymous donor, the Joseph Chair is filled by distinctive scholars in Catholic theology who illustrate the role of effective research. Holders of the chair - which is filled every other year with a one-year appointment - also teach one graduate seminar each semester on the fathers of the early Christian Church.

"He's a lively, interesting man of extraordinary ability, who has published technical articles in several different languages," said Prof. Robert Daly, SJ (Theology). "He also reflects a very interesting trend in early Christian studies. Whereas in the past the practitioners in this field were usually priests or monks, in recent years it has been laypeople who are taking up the studies, and so the discipline has found its way into secular universities. This has been a marvelous development for patristics."

"I am very glad to be here," said Beatrice, a Padua native who first visited the University nine years ago for a colloquium. "I enjoy both the environment and the people at Boston College. There are many tools to work with, especially in the library, and many good colleagues. The students here seem very eager and excited to learn."

This semester, Beatrice is teaching a seminar in early Christian creeds and doctrines. In the spring, he will lead a seminar on early Trinitarian controversies.
Pier Franco Beatrice.

Beatrice's scholarly interests in early Christianity include the history of the liturgy and the Church's relationship with the Roman Empire. His current project involves preparing a new critical edition of the Theosophy , an ancient Greek text, including a first-ever translation of the work into modern language.

Beatrice joined the faculty at Padua as an assistant professor in 1978, and became associate professor two years later. He earned a degree in classical philosophy from Padua in 1970, and earned a doctorate in Christian origins and patristic literature from the Catholic University of Milan in 1978.

His publications include the books Tradux peccati (Transmission of the Sin) and La lavanda dei piedi , which explores the history of the liturgical rite of feet-washing. He also edited and wrote the introduction to a collection of essays by European scholars on Christian intolerance against the pagans.

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