Studium Biblicum Franciscanum has a new dean

He is originally from southern Italy and a teacher of biblical Greek and textual criticism of the New Testament. Effective June 12, the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum has a new dean: Fr. Rosario Pierri. Born in 1960 at Baronissi, in the province of Salerno, he obtained this appointment as a result of the voting process presided over by the Rector, Sister Mary Melone. Already a vice dean, as well as a bursar and secretary, he replaced Fr. Massimo Pazzini and will remain in office for three years.


“A dean’s position is demanding, [and] it requires taking responsibility in every respect,” said Fr. Pierri. The experience I gained during my years at the secretariat and with the collaboration of my predecessors are precious to me, and so I feel confident [about this new assignment].” The previous dean, Fr. Massimo, will, instead, take the position of Vice Dean. “Fr. Rosario and I have a good understanding with each other. We have worked together for many years and we have collaborated with each other in the past, especially in these last three years. So, I expect that collaboration to continue and increase. We, therefore, are beginning in a sign of continuity,” said Fr. Pazzini.


The College of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology of the Pontifical Antonianum University underwent many changes in these last years. First of all, there was a replacement of teachers, in an attempt to replace those who were had achieved emeritus. Among the activities carried out, were the archaeological excavations in Jordan and elsewhere, at the Machaerus site and at the Moses memorial on Mount Nebo and in Magdala. The restorations of the Holy Sepulcher were an important event as well, along with the renovation of the Terra Sancta Museum, still under way. “I believe that the scientific collaboration of the Dominican friars of Jerusalem with the biblical school is also a remarkable phenomenon that actually took place during this last six-year period,” said Fr. Pazzini, referring to the good relationship established with the École Biblique et Archéologique Française.
“My six years of work at the Studium have been enjoyable, intense and productive,” said the former dean. “Enjoyable, because I had the joy of collaborating with many confreres; intense because we invested our energy not only in the classes, but also in the things that were needed to establish our environment. The [great] number of those who have completed their studies and obtained the degree in Biblical Sciences and Archaeology as well as a doctorate is a confirmation to us that we are working well and we are on the right track.”

Future challenges include the internationalization and the creation of a specialized faculty. “For several reasons, the dominant or supporting group of teachers is of Italian origin. We are also trying to form and co-opt friars of different origins. In the future, perhaps, we will have to offer more courses in other languages, based on the students’ origins,” said Fr. Massimo Pazzini. “It will also be a commitment to greater openness and participation with academic institutions in Jerusalem, with which we share the same or similar field of research.”
The new dean, Fr. Rosario Pierri, has a specific goal in mind: “I believe that we are able to not only meet challenges, so to speak, and not just wait for them and almost endure them. I do not like passivity. What do I mean by that? My generation has the responsibility to preserve and value a great heritage. I’m talking about archaeology, about the reflection on early Christianity, which is closely linked to exegesis and archaeology, to the generation of aid for our school: for grammar and vocabulary purposes. Certainly, I will promote the publication of an updated version of the Enchiridion by Fr. Donato Baldi. In short, I think it is fair to aim at what characterizes the SBF the most, without, obviously, neglecting other aspects.”

To this date, close ties link the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum to the Custody of the Holy Land. “There is no doubt that the SBF is a reality thanks to the Custody, as there are no doubts about the qualified contribution that the SBF has given so far and will continue to provide to the Custody and to the local community on a cultural level,” said Fr. Rosario Pierri. “We are an emanation of the Custody, which illustrates the holy places and their authenticity. We are, therefore, working to give academic dignity to the local tradition that has never failed,” said Fr. Massimo Pazzini.
A challenging job therefore awaits the new dean of the Studium Biblicum, who said that he is ready to give his best: “My predecessors’ activities have contributed to giving the SBF the present structure. It is up to us, not only to me, but to all of us at the SBF, to continue this work and to do our part for the good name of the College in order to ensure a solid education for our students.”

Beatrice Guarrera

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