I sometime fantasize about writing a series of fiction novels with a theological slant. One idea I toy with now and then is to do a series of detective mystery novels, each with a different saint of the Catholic Church as the main investigator, written with their life and particular charism in mind. “St Augustine Investigates”, “St Therese of Liseux Investigates”, “St Padre Pio Investigates” etc. Could be fun.
Another idea I toy with now and then is the old idea that Peter Kreeft uses so well in such books as “Socrates meets Kant”: pitting together great minds from different ages. In that vein, I would really like to do a “Professor Jerome Murphy-O’Connor meets St Paul”. I would love to see the sparks fly!!
I will candidly admit that I have not read much JM-O’C. I know he is a great expert on the Pauline epistles, and especially on the Corinthian correspondence. I am doing an Anima Education course on 1 Corinthians at the moment (continuing for a second 6-week period this Monday night), and so I am reading his little work in the “The People’s Bible Commentary” series on 1 Corinthians. I chose this rather than his major commentary because I was looking for a text to recommend my class as an accessible popular work informed by deep scholarship. At first I thought I might be on the right track, but now I am having my doubts.
JM-O’C gives a whole new meaning to “critical” exegesis! Here is just one example I have just read:
A Potty Principle: In each instance Paul’s answer was essentially “Yes, but”, because circumstances alter cases. Now he formulates a general principle to cover all such situations: “each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (7:16, cf. 7:20). At this point one begins to have a certain sympathy with the Corinthians because, when taken literally, this is nonsense. …Obviously Paul has put his foot in it once again. (p.78)
There are instances where JM-O’C takes it upon himself to be critical of the apostle. Has anyone with greater familiarity with his work noticed this?