Biblical studies for all believers: Reflections on the eightieth anniversary of the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain

Sean Ryan writes about the history and current work of the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain.

In the midst of the current pandemic, and the isolation, bereavements and depth of worries that have engulfed so many of us, one of the signs of hope has been the thirst for online study of the Bible. A wealth of remotely delivered talks, study days, presentations and study resources on scriptural topics, organised by parishes, dioceses, bishops’ conferences, retreat centres and religious orders have reached out to the people of God across the continents.1 These online events and resources have sought to knit together the body of Christ, Head and Body, in thoughtful, prayerful study of Scripture. Our own experience, in the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain (CBA-GB), which is mirrored by others, has been of an extraordinary interest in the online talks on biblical topics that we have offered, with more than 600 participants at some of these live streams, with hundreds more listening to these recordings later. In this article, we will reflect on ‘the signs of the times’ and this encouraging interest in biblical studies in this country, especially by Catholics, at the present time. We will also reflect on the past and look to the future of the promotion of biblical studies for all believers, focusing in particular on the work of the CBA-GB in the UK, which has sought to encourage all Catholics to engage in more depth with the fruits of biblical scholarship, in an ecumenically open spirit.

The talks that the CBA-GB organised in 2020–21 were, in part, a celebration of the eightieth anniversary of the formation of the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain in 1940, emerging out of an earlier era of wartime fear and loss. This anniversary provides an ideal opportunity to reflect upon some of the ways that the CBA-GB has sought to support and enhance the study of the Scriptures by all Catholics over the past 80 years, as well as suggesting ways that this may be continued into the future.

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