2007 Annual CBAP Convention - Tagaytay City

The Catholic Biblical Association of the Philippines held its Eighth Annual Convention last July 20-22, 2007, in Tagaytay City, a resort town on a ridge overlooking scenic Taal Lake (photos: 1, 2). The calm waters of the lake betray its turbulent past when a catastrophic volcanic eruption thousands years ago disgorged massive lahar flow that inundated the land of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna. The ancient volcano collapsed on itself to form a massive caldera that is now Taal Lake. Only a small smoke-belching crater in the middle of the shallow waters warns people today of the awesome power of nature that can be unleashed at any time (photos: 1, 2). What an appropriate place for the CBAP to discuss the topic of the Bible and Ecology!

The Phinma Training Center provided first class facilities for the three day convention—air-conditioned conference hall with lobby (photos: 1, 2), three or four workshop rooms, dining hall with cocktail lounge upstairs (photo: 1), bedrooms with baths (photo: 1), and a gym—at a subsidized registration fee of 2,000 pesos each participant.

2007 Annual CBAP Convention - First Day

20 July, Friday – At half past noon the convention participants began to arrive and registration promptly started at 1:00 PM in the lobby (photo: 1). After receiving their IDs, convention kits, copies of the 2006 CBAP Lectures and Proceedings, and room assignments, the participants proceeded to the hostel where they were billeted (photos: 1, 2). Of the thirty-seven members expected to attend the convention, only about 5 or 6 were not able to make it. There were six candidates for membership and about twenty observers who attended the convention. While waiting for the convention to start the participants exchanged pleasantries and chatted at the lobby. Some browsed books on display at the lobby from the St. Paul (photo: 1) and Claretians Publications (photo: 1).

The convention started at 2:30 PM with an opening prayer and Bible enthronement (photos: 1, 2, 3, 4). After a brief orientation by Leander Barrot, OAR (photo: 1), head of the organizing committee, Victor Nicdao (photo: 1), CBAP President, gave the welcome address and progress report to the plenary assembly. He enumerated the various activities of the association since the last convention and thanked various people and institutions that helped the association. This was followed by the audited financial report of Gil Alinsangan, SSP, CBAP Treasurer.

Bernie Dianzon, FSP, chair of the membership committee, presented one new member of the CBAP. After the assembly discussed and approved the proposal of having a new category of associate membership in the CBAP, Bernie also presented the six candidates for associate members: Benita Esguerra; Martha Gamolo, DC; Hansel Mapayo, SSP; Kristine Meneses; Natividad Mirasol; and Carmelo Sorita.

Cielito Almazan, OFM (photo: 1), professor of Our Lady of Angels Seminary in Novaliches, presented the theme of the convention "Bible and Ecology" (photo: 1) and its relevance for today's world – a world that has become suddenly aware of global warming and climate change, and has recently experienced the devastation wrought by the Pinatubo eruption, the Indian Ocean tsunami, and hurricane Katrina. What does the Bible have to say about natural disasters and people's responsibility toward mother earth?

After the merienda break, Cristino Pine, OFM (photo: 1), introduced the first major speaker Bienvenido Baisas, OFM (photo: 1). Benny, as he is fondly called, studied Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and under the tutelage of the late Michel Dahood, explored Ugaritic as a means of understanding the Hebrew Bible. Benny is not only an academician, but also a well-sought spiritual director and formator of a number of Franciscan houses and congregations in the Philippines.

In his paper "A Renewed Re-Reading of the Priestly Creation Story with a Special Consideration of the Hebrew Verbs rdh and kbš in Gen. 1:26-28," Benny concluded that "it was the catastrophe to 586 BCE with the destruction of the Temple, the end of the monarchy, the devastation of the land, and the exile…that impelled P to give a new ray of hope towards the promise of shalom and well-being. In the P creation story, P used old stories and elements of those stories, giving them new meanings and purpose in view of answering severe God-questions the exiles and post-exiles posed. God creates creation! This is supreme confession of the story.... Indeed P's use of rdh and kbš could be misleading if taken at their face value…. The "hermeneutical dance" suggested by our late colleague Anthony R. Ceresko…has enabled us to see nuances which I believe ground well our eco-justice teaching in response to challenges of the ecological disaster…." After Benny's lecture, a lively open forum followed.

The first day ended with a Mass presided by Noe de los Santos (photo: 1), Rector of Mater Salutis Seminary in the Diocese of Legazpi. The cocktail and dinner gave the participants opportunity to socialize and renew friendship (photos: 1, 2, 3).

Randy Flores (photo: 1) was the moderator of the first day.

2007 Annual CBAP Convention - Second Day

July 21, Saturday – The opening liturgy included a well-applauded prayer song and dance performed a group of young people from a parish apostolate run by the Daughters of Charity (photo: 1).

Sr. Helen Graham, MM (photo: 1) presented the second major speaker Dianne Bergant, CSA (photos: 1, 2). Former President of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (2000-2001), Bergant is currently professor of Biblical Studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Her research interests include biblical theology and interpretation, the integrity of creation, feminism and liberationist perspectives, and world mission. Some of the books she has published are: Israel's Wisdom Literature: A Liberation-Critical Reading (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997); The Earth Is the Lord’s: the Bible, Ecology and Worship (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1998); Song of Songs (Berit Olam Series; Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2001); Lamentations (Nashville: Abingdon, 2003).

In her paper "Things too Wonderful for Me – Job 42:3: Job and the New Cosmology," Dianne pointed out that "a careful reading of Job's words shows that he never questioned God's power. However, he expected that power to be exercised in providential ways that he could understand. His insight into the marvels of the natural world, gained through God's astounding manifestation through nature, led him to realize that total comprehension of divine power and providence was beyond his grasp. Once he realized this, Job was able to deepen his appreciation of the mystery that is God, even without fully understanding it." Bergant's insight elicited a lively discussion during the open forum.

After group picture taking (photo: 1, 2, 3) and merienda, the assembly broke up into small groups for two workshop papers: (1) "Kay YHWH ang Lupa at Kapunuan Nito – Awit 24" by Martha Gamolo, DC; and (2) "Teaching Biblical Greek" by Hebert Schneider, SJ (photo: 1).

The afternoon session started at 2:00 with the reports of the activities of the OT and NT interest groups. Both groups met once every semester to listen to lectures given by two or three members. The regular meetings were a way of maintaining the members' interest in scripture and keeping them updated on recent developments in biblical research.

After the reports, the participants had the choice of attending one of two workshops: (1) "OT Holy Mountain Ethos and Its Transformation in the NT" by Rafael Dy-Liacco; and (2) "The Moon and the Stars: Study of Psalm 8" by Emmanuel Hirschauer (photos: 1, 2).

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to the announcement of the results of the election of the 2007-08 CBAP Board of Trustees. Although reelected, Gil Alinsangan, SSP, declined to serve for another term. At the meeting of the newly elected board that night, they chose to keep the same set of officers as last year's, except that Gil would now be replaced by Herb as acting Treasurer.

The second day ended with a Mass officiated by Broderick Pabillo (photos: 1, 2, 3), auxiliary bishop of Manila in-charge of the urban poor. Bishop Pabillo is an active founding member of CBAP.

Arnold Monera (photo: 1) was the moderator of the second day.

2007 Annual CBAP Convention - Third Day

July 22, Sunday – After the opening prayer, the assembly broke up into small groups for two workshop papers: (1) "Divine Council, Human Fate and Natural Disasters: A Survey of Cuneiform Texts from the Ancient Near East" by Randy Flores, SVD; and (2) "An Ignatian Way of Understanding the Bible" by Dominik Markl, SJ (photos: 1, 2).

After the mid-morning snack, the not-so-new set of CBAP officers for 2007-08 were presented: Vic Nicdao as President; Arnold Monera as Vice President, Bernie Dianzon as Secretary; and Herb Schneider as Executive Director and acting Treasurer. Leander Barrot, OAR, Randy Flores, SVD, Helen Graham, MM, and Fruto Ramirez, SJ, are the other members of the board.

The convention concluded with a Eucharistic celebration presided by Pablo David (photos: 1, 2), auxiliary bishop of San Fernando, Pampanga; former Vice President and founding member of CBAP.

After a hearty lunch, the participants bade shalom to the city on the ridge overlooking lovely Taal Lake with its serene waters hiding the turmoil beneath the earth's crust.

Testimonial Dinner for Dianne Bergant, CSA, and Bienvenido Baisas, OFM

The CBAP Board of Trustees tendered a testimonial dinner last July 25 for Dianne Bergant, CSA, and Bienvenido Baisas, OFM, who were the main speakers in the recently concluded 2007 Annual CBAP Convention held in Tagaytay City (photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The sumptuous dinner held at the Loyola School of Theology board room was prepared by Herb Schneider SJ whose favorite pastime is gourmet cooking. Present at the dinner were Vic Nicdao (CBAP President), Bernie Dianzon (Secretary), Herb Schneider, SJ (Exec. Secretary), Helen Graham, MM (Board Member), Bing Kasilag (Assistant), and Fruto Ramirez, SJ (Board Member). Three members of the board--Leander Barrot, OAR, and Randy Flores, SVD, and Arnold Monera--were not able to attend. On behalf of the CBAP, the President expressed gratitude to Dianne and Benny and gave them gifts as token of appreciation (photos: 1, 2, 3). After dinner, Dianne Bergant gave a public lecture sponsored by LST at the Cardinal Sin Center.


Biblical Reponses to the Poor and Marginalized

So the Poor Have Hope, and Injustice
Shuts Her Mouth -- Job 5:16

The Bible uses a variety of words to describe the poor in ancient Israel. In the OT, the most commonly used word dal refers to people who are weak, gaunt, or helpless (Exod 30:15; Lev 19:15; Judges 16:6; it is even used for malnourished cows in Gen 41:19). The adjective 'oni portrays them as afflicted and oppressed (Exod 22:25; Deut 24:12.14.15; Job 24:4.9), while 'anaw depicts them as humiliated (Isa 32:7; Amos 8:4; Ps 9:19; Job 24:4). The term 'ebyon accentuates the material deprivation they suffer. The verb muk depicts their sinking into indebtedness and slavery, or the deterioration of their economic and social status (Lev 25:35.39). In the NT, the most frequently used word for the poor is ptuchos which means a beggar. Although some of the poor may have worked for a living (Exod 23:11; Lev 19:10; Deut 24:14-15), mendicancy may have been the only means of survival for most of the destitute (Deut 15:7-8.11).
The Bible also uses metonyms for the poor. Widows ('almanot / cherai) and orphans (yetomim / orphanoi) are sometimes just substituted for the word poor (Job 22:9; Ps 68:6; Isa 9:16; 10:2; Jer 49:11; 2 Mac 3:10; 8:28.30; James 1:27). In ancient times, when there were no orphanages and homes for the aged, the widows and fatherless children were most vulnerable and helpless. They were the poorest of the poor. Hence, they became the living symbols of the disadvantaged class.
Perhaps the most graphic and heart-wrenching illustration of poverty in ancient Israel is Job’s:
Behold, like wild asses in the desert they go forth to their toil, seeking prey in the wilderness as food for their children. They gather their fodder in the field and they glean the vineyard of the wicked man. They lie all night naked, without clothing, and have no covering in the cold. They are wet with the rain of the mountains, and cling to the rock for want of shelter. There are those who snatch the fatherless child from the breast, and take in pledge the infant of the poor. (Job 24:5-9)
What was Israel’s response to the cry of the poor? Certainly, there were social legislations enacted to protect the interest of the weak, and provide for the needs of the impoverished. The following were stipulated in the Torah:
If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him (Exod 22:25).
You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his suit (Exod 23:6).
And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner…. (Lev 18:10; cf. 23:22; Exod 23:11).
And if your brother becomes poor, and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall maintain him; as a stranger and a sojourner he shall live with you (Lev 25:35; cf. v. 39).
When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not go into his house to fetch his pledge…. And if he is a poor man, you shall not sleep in his pledge; when the sun goes down, you shall restore to him the pledge that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the LORD your God (Deut 24:10-13).
All these laws were meant to lessen, if not to eradicate, poverty. However, as long as the Israelites did not open their hearts in generosity and justice towards their fellow, “the poor would never cease out of the land” (Deut 15:11). Destitution and social inequality would always be part of their situation (cf. Matt 26:11).
The Bible does not tell us everything that needs to be done today to stamp out poverty. What it promotes and urges us to attain is the basic life-orientation of helping the indigent and the powerless. How in particular we can help them and raise them up is a matter for ongoing discernment.
To help discern our contemporary response, the Seventh Annual Convention of the CBAP dealt with theme Biblical Responses to the Poor and Marginalized. The two main lecturers were Dr. Gale A. Yee, professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachussetts, and Dr. Bernardita Dianzon, FSP, professor at the Loyola School of Theology in Quezon City, Philippines. The workshop papers were given by Leander Barrot, OAR; Rustam Sabularse; Renato Repole, SJ; Regino Cortes, OP; Miriam Alejandrino, OSB; and Bienvenido Baisas, OFM. Fr. Cortes’ untimely death prevented the publication of his paper.
Felipe Fruto Ll. Ramirez, SJ

Women in Ancient Israel & the Hebrew Bible


LST Course Offerings in First Sem SY 07-08

Loyola School of Theology has announced its courses in the First Semester of SY 2007-08. Among the courses to be offered are Biblical Hebrew I & III, Biblical Greek I, II, and III; Biblical Hermeneutics & Research Methods; Historical & Cultural Backgrounds to the New Testament; and introductory courses to the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Wisdom Literature, and the Synoptic Gospels. LST is now offering a Graduate Program in Biblical Exegesis (MA & PhD).

Click here to see complete list of course offerings.


Dianne Bergant Is 2007 CBAP Convention Speaker

Dianne Bergant, CSA, and Bienvenido Baisas, OFM, will be the main speakers in the the 8th Annual Catholic Biblical Assiociation of the Philippines Convention scheduled on 20-22 July 2007 at PHINMA Training Center, in Tagaytay City. The convention theme will be on "The Bible and Ecology."

Former President of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (2000-2001), Bergant is currently professor of Biblical Studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Her research interests include biblical theology and interpretation, the integrity of creation, feminism and liberationist perspectives, and world mission. Some of the books she has published are: Israel's Wisdom Literature: A Liberation-Critical Reading (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997); The Earth Is the Lord’s: the Bible, Ecology and Worship (American Essays in Liturgy; Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1998); Song of Songs (Berit Olam Series; Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2001); Lamentations (Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries; Nashville: Abingdon, 2003).



CBAP-LST Biblical Language Courses

The Catholic Biblical Association of the Philippines, in collaboration with Loyola School of Theology, will be offering courses in Biblical Hebrew and Greek from April 17 to May 12 in LST. For details, click on: