I am Fr. Bill Burton, OFM, a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest of the Sacred Heart Province. I live at our friary (called “Antonianum” in honor of St. Anthony of Padua, the great preacher and contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi) in Chicago with two other friars: Fr. Chuck Faso, OFM and Bro. Clarence Klingert, OFM.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a biblicist is “an expert on the bible.” I’m a little wary of using this term as a self-description. However, my understanding of the term includes those people with advanced training in biblical research who also dedicate themselves to on-going scripture study. Given that expanded definition, I certainly qualify as a “biblicist.” I have spent years in formal study of the Bible and have continued to study and pore over these ancient and sacred texts.
I have an MDiv. from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and an MA in Theology, also from Catholic Theological Union. I received my Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (SSL) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome (The SSL from the Biblical Institute is a Roman degree that is the equivalent of a doctorate without dissertation.) and a doctorate (STD) from the Pontifical Gregorian University, also in Rome. In 2002 I received my MEd in Higher Education Administration from Loyola University, Chicago.
I taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Biblical Studies at Quincy University, Quincy, Illinois and undergraduate courses at DePaul University in Chicago.
I am a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the College Theology Society and the Catholic Biblical Association. I’ve delivered several academic papers at the College Theology Society and have recently published an article in The Bible Today (July/August, 2006) and in Commonweal (April, 2007). I am a member of the Board of Trustees at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and on the Board of the Catholic Coalition on Preaching. I am currently researching and writing other articles as well as a book. I have traveled extensively and studied arduously through Israel/Palestine, Turkey, Egypt, Greece and Italy where I lived for almost 7 years. Thanks to my education I am able to work with the biblical texts in their original languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek and thanks to my travels I have a first hand experience of the environments from which the biblical texts emerged.
From June through September of 2007, I will be living in Jerusalem studying Modern Hebrew. My hope is that gaining some facility with Modern Hebrew I will improve my ability to offer more current and accurate information as I guide pilgrims in the Holy Land. I hope it will also improve my skills in handling the Biblical Hebrew of the Old Testament.
No matter where I have been studying or teaching, I’ve always included adult bible study as part of my ministry; holding weekly or bi-weekly sessions with adults interested in learning more about Sacred Scripture. It is in this context that I feel most at home and most energized. Besides the years of sessions in Quincy Illinois, I’ve guided adult Biblical Study sessions at St. Peters-in-the-Loop in Chicago, in St. Louis, Palm Springs, Rome and Philadelphia.
I’ve always been inspired by a thought from the Church’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum, paragraph, 26) which I’ve paraphrased below:
…So may it come that, by the study of the sacred books, the treasure of Revelation may more and more fill human hearts.
To this end I have studied, written and prayed.
It is in the scriptures that we learn the story of our salvation and pondering that ancient story we become aware of God’s saving love in our lives today. I can think of nothing more satisfying or fulfilling than a spiritual life enriched by study of the Sacred Scriptures. This is what our Church calls each of us to. I’d welcome the opportunity to help a parish or bible study group by offering a scripture-based parish mission, a workshop or a seminar.