PHILADELPHIA Jesuit Father Joseph Fitzmyer, a leading Catholic biblical scholar, died Dec. 24 at Manresa Hall, a Jesuit infirmary in Philadelphia. He was 96.He was 96! That's what philology does for you. Rest in peace.
A funeral Mass was to be celebrated Jan. 5 at St. Matthias Church in Bala Cynwyd, just outside Philadelphia, followed by a burial at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville.
The priest, who was born in Philadelphia in 1920 and was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1951, is well known for his contributions to the Anchor Bible Series and for co-editing "The Jerome Biblical Commentary."
He earned a doctorate in Semitics from Johns Hopkins University in 1956 and a licentiate in sacred Scripture a year later from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.
Fitzmyer was a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and also served as president of the U.S. Catholic Biblical Association.
An expert in the Aramaic language spoken by Christ and by many first-century Jews and Christians, the priest was noted for his work on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gospel of Luke. He did some of the initial work in the 1950s to prepare a concordance to the scrolls and was one of the first Americans to have direct access to the documents.