Monthly Archives: December 2009

James Swetnam’s CLOSE READINGS []

James Swetnam’s


*Father Swetnam recently gave a series of lectures on the Letter to the Hebrews

to the Religious Sisters of Mercy in Alma, Michigan.

“James Swetnam’s Close Readings”

This is a website designed to make up for past defects and exploit past insights in the author’s interpretation of passages from the Bible. Thus the website has as its ultimate goal a better understanding of the Word of God. The title is unavoidably pretentious but it sums up exactly what I have in mind. I have been engaged in activities relevant to the Bible for many decades, as can be seen from the accompanying curriculum vitae. During this time I have published two books and a number of articles in a variety of journals, as can be seen from the accompanying bibliography. It would seem time to make use of the marvels of electronics to look back on this modestly extensive body of material and try to interpret some of it for anyone interested in the close reading of Scriptural texts. Caveat emptor: the material being offered here is entirely the responsibility of the author. Although he is a believing member of the Roman Catholic Church, is a member of the Society of Jesus, and has labored at the Pontifical Biblical Institute for decades, the offerings which will be found on this site are in no way to be attributed in any official, authoritative way to the Roman Catholic Church or the Society of Jesus or the Pontifical Biblical Institute. They are the responsibility of the author and of him alone. They are offered on this basis and on no other. They are worth whatever the intrinsic argumentation found in them is worth, and nothing more. It is also important to note that I do not try to “prove” anything in this material. I have tried to give a plausible interpretation of the texts in question and nothing more.  It is quite possible that someone else can come up with a more plausible interpretation. If so, I would be the first to welcome this new interpretation. My religious faith is not based on my understanding of Scripture; it is based on the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.  But my understanding of what the Church teaches me is heavily dependent on my understanding of what Scripture seems to say. Fides quaerens intellectum.

(Father James Swetnam, S.J.)