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Alumni Endow New Religious Studies Professorship at Holy Cross

Frederick Murphy becomes first ‘Class of 1956 Professor’
May 21st, 2007 by 

WORCESTER, Mass. – Members of the Holy Cross Class of 1956 have funded a new professorship in the department of religious studies, and Professor Frederick J. Murphy has been named as the first to hold the position.

The professorship was funded at the time of the Class of 1956’s 50th reunion and was a part of its record-setting commitment of more than $8 million to the College.

“I am delighted that Holy Cross alumni have given us this chance to recognize in Professor Murphy an individual who exemplifies so many of the qualities we value in our finest faculty members,” said Timothy R. Austin, vice president of academic affairs and dean. “His dedication to the classroom, his commitment to scholarly excellence and his willingness to serve the College and his profession make him a model of the teacher-scholar.”

Murphy, of Holden, joined the religious studies faculty in 1983 after completing work on his Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard University. In addition to A.B. and A.M. degrees from Harvard, Murphy studied at the University of London, where he earned a bachelor of divinity degree with first class honors.

In his scholarship, Murphy studies texts from the era immediately before and after the life of Christ, texts written in a world shared by Jews and the earliest Christians. His goal, in his own words, is to explicate “ancient Judaisms, Jesus’ humanity, and Catholic biblical scholarship.” In the course of his studies, Professor Murphy has authored six books, most recently Early Judaism: The Exile to the Time of Jesus (Hendrickson Publishers, 2002) and An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels (Abingdon, 2005). He has published more than 20 refereed essays, articles and book chapters as well as scores of book reviews. In 1991, an earlier work, The Religious World of Jesus received the Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award, the highest form of recognition for scholarship awarded by the national Jesuit honor society.

He has also served two terms as associate editor for Catholic Biblical Quarterly (1993-2001 and 2004-present) and was president of the Northeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2005-2006. He currently acts both as a consultant for the Catholic Biblical Association and as a peer reviewer for Boston College’s electronic journal Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations. In 2004-2005, he was the Joseph Visiting Professor in the Theology Department at Boston College.

At Holy Cross, Murphy has served terms on all of the major committees and councils, including the Committee on Tenure and Promotion, the Committee on Faculty Affairs, and two search committees for deans of the College. Between 1989 and 1995, he was chair of the religious studies department.

He is also active in religious life in the city of Worcester, facilitating workshops and seminars for diocesan and parish audiences. He also teaches in the program for pastoral ministry at Anna Maria College and has taught in the masters program at Assumption College.

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