Thursday, January 3, 2013

A tribute to Prof. Frans Neirynck

On October 20th, 2012 professor emeritus Frans Neirynck passed away in the Retirement Home of Saint Bernard in Bertem.  Frans Neirynck was born on May 15, 1927. He was ordained a priest on May 30, ‎‎1953 in Bruges and then he studied in the Faculty of Theology at KU Leuven, where he completed his doctorate in 1957 and defended his dissertation entitled "The Infancy Narrative in the Gospel of Luke" under the supervision of Albert Descamps. From 1957 to 1960 he was a professor in the Major Seminary in Bruges and on December 20, ‎‎1960 he was appointed successor of his supervisor in Leuven. He started as a docent (1961). In 1962 he became a full professor of New Testament exegesis. From 1968 to 1972 he was the dean of the newly established Dutch-speaking faculty of theology. With the support of his colleague Maurits Sabbe he initiated the English programme which boosted the international esteem of the faculty. Together with Maurits Sabbe he founded the Flemish Bible Foundation which was launched in ‎‎1968. He retired in 1992, but this does not mean that his scientific activity ended at that point.
As a scholar and researcher Neirynck was a tireless scholar who devoted his life to the literary study of the gospels. He argued and defended the priority of Mark, the two source theory and the dependence of John on the Synoptics.

In his work he was always very accurate and meticulous, he relied on an exhaustive overviews of the scholarship that reached far beyond to the twentieth century. He configured the data which he collected into useful exegetical tools in order to stimulate further research. He defended a pronounced and well argued position of his own and tested it in ongoing international dialogue with New Testament scholars all over the world. He published  numerous scientific publications, was the driving force behind the annual Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense, which had been founded in 1949, the Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses and the Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Thelogicarum Lovaniensium, the three Leuven institutions inextricably connected to him and the 'Louvain School'.

Prof. Neirynck was a member of international exegetical societies as well as the Belgian Royal Academy of Science and Fine Arts. In 1989-1990 he was the president of the prestigious Society of New Testament Studies. He supervised large numbers of students in the preparation of their doctorates and supported them beyond in their continuing research after the completion of their doctorates. Without exaggeration, one can say that Professor Neirynck left a mark on New Testament exegesis and more specifically on the study of the Gospels in the second half of the twentieth century.
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