SBF, a new appointment with the Biblical Refresher Course

SBF, a new appointment with the Biblical Refresher Course

The annual appointment with the Biblical and theological refresher course  (CABT), promoted by the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (SBF)l returns to Jerusalem (Immaculate Auditorium of St Saviour) from 2 to 5 April next. This will be the 47th edition and takes place in a very particular year: that of the centenary of the SBF but also the year marked by the conflict in Gaza. “We will dedicate this edition of the CABT to all those, without any distinction, who are suffering or have died because of the war” fra Rosario Pierri, Dean of the Studium Biblicum tells us.

Climate of uncertainty

If last year the organizers were surprised by the high number of participants, this year few presences are expected, especially from abroad, precisely because of the conflict underway. However, this will not prevent everyone who wishes from following the live streaming of the lectures on the channels of the Christian Media Center . “We are also suffering the consequences of the current tensions,” fra Rosario reflects. “This climate of uncertainty damages and makes many poor people suffer. You can actually come to Jerusalem in complete safety, and  I hope that we will soon have an inversion of the trend and welcome  pilgrims back.”

One hundred years of the Studium

The Studium Biblicum is a scientific institution founded in 1924 by the Custody of the Holy Land (after a number of previous attempts) for research and academic teaching of the Holy Scriptures and archaeology of the biblical lands. Since 2001, it has been the Faculty of Biblical and Archaeological Studies of the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome. It awards the academic qualification of Bachelor in Sacred Theology, as well as a Degree and Doctorate in Biblical and Archaeological Studies.

Courses and audiences

“The Biblical and theological refresher course,” fra Rosario tells us, “was the idea of fra Bellarmino Bagatti, 47 years ago, to meet a need of a pastoral nature, which can be summarized in the words of the Holy Father to us when he received us in an audience on 15 January, earlier this year: ‘May rigorous and scientific study (...) always be united for you with the contact with the life of the holy people of God and with the purpose of being at his pastoral service. (...) Outside the body of the Church, these studies are of no use.’”

The CABT is therefore a tool to reach a wider public than the strictly academic one. “In this sense,” fra Rosario emphasizes, “the language used by the lecturers must be accessible and avoid technical terms as far as possible.”. If the substance of the Course has not changed, it has certainly  evolved in the field of divulgation:  thanks to the means of communication, in particular live streaming, a far wider public can be reached.” 

Topics and lecturers

In continuity with last year’s topic - “Jerusalem” –this year the Course will focus on “worship in the Holy Scripture and in the Holy Land in the first centuries of Christianity.” “Jerusalem is above all the centre of Jewish worship and the place from where Christianity radiated into the world,” fra Rosario emphasizes. “Investigating the relationship of continuity and innovation between ancient Jewish worship and the new Christian worship  is a way to further knowledge of our roots and of the Mother Church.”  The lecturers are  mostly teachers at the  Studium, but there are also some guest lecturers. “Each one presents a study on the topic of the course, developing the reflection in their own field of specialization.” The lectures will be held every day in the morning, in Italian. The conclusions will be offered by the Dean.

As every year, excursions will be a characteristic feature of the Course.  The participants will visit the Valley of the Kidron-Jehoshaphat, the area of the Anastasis and the Western Wall Tunnels. The whole day of Friday 5 April will be devoted to an archaeological-biblical excursion “In the footsteps of Paul, Peter and Cornelius”  and will visit Ein Hemed - Aqua Bella, Jaffa and Cesarea Maritima. The excursions are organized by Professors Gianantonio Urbani, Amedeo Ricco and Yunus Demirci.

Marinella Bandini