Saint Vincent Benedictine Writes Third Book on John’s Gospel

 The third book by Saint Vincent Seminary faculty member Father Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., has been published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota. Entitled A Mystical Portrait of Jesus – New Perspectives on John’s Gospel, the book has received praise from several reviewers.

A Mystical Portrait of Jesus – New Perspectives on John’s Gospel is a book that pays close attention to scientific biblical study, but goes beyond it to highlight the spiritually nourishing symbolic message of the fourth gospel. By beginning the book with a study of John’s passion narrative, Father Demetrius presents the guiding principle of this gospel and then discusses some of the dangers of religious ritual and the promise of richly rewarding mystical experience for all Christians.

“After teaching the gospel of John for almost fifty years, it has become clear to me that a traditional chapter-and-verse commentary does not do justice to the unique symbolic and spiritual dimensions of this gospel,” Father Demetrius said. “In looking for a better way to interpret this gospel, I accepted the standard judgment that all the gospels were written after the resurrection and that the passion narrative greatly influenced, therefore, how the earlier chapters were composed.

Some of the reviewer’s comments included:

“Demetrius Dumm, using a new and daring approach, brings remarkably fresh insights to John’s Gospel. In his usual lucid and clear style, he goes beyond the literal, historical, and critical approach to reveal the transcendent elements in this unique Gospel. In reading his commentary one continues to say, ‘of course, now it makes sense,’ only to find that it also becomes much more challenging.”

The book is “rooted in sound biblical scholarship but available to everyone. . . . Above all, he (Father Demetrius) leads us into the Gospel of John as through a doorway to the experience of God.”

“With a rare ability to express complex theology and biblical scholarship in an engaging, readable style, Fr. Dumm offers a valuable gift … as informative as a fine graduate course, and as inspiring as an outstanding retreat.”

Other books by Father Demetrius include Flowers in the Desert, A Spirituality of the Bible, recently reprinted by Saint Vincent Archabbey Publications; and Cherish Christ Above All, The Bible in the Rule of Benedict.

A Mystical Portrait of Jesus: New Perspectives on John’s Gospel, is available by mail from Archabbey Publications, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, Pa., 15650-2690 or at the Basilica Gift Shop on the Saint Vincent Campus or the Campus Book Center. For pricing information contact Archabbey Publications at 724-539-9761, ext. 2601.

Father Demetrius has taught at Saint Vincent Seminary since 1952. He served as its Rector from 1963 to 1980 and as its Vice Rector from 1955 to 1963. He is currently a professor of Sacred Scripture, and he has also taught Biblical Greek and Hebrew, in addition to serving as Director of Spiritual Life from 1989 to 1993.

He received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Saint Vincent College in 1945, and attended Saint Vincent Seminary from 1943 to 1946. He received a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1950 from the Pontifical Institute of Sant’ Anselmo, Rome. He studied at the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem from 1950 to 1952, after which he received a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Vatican City.

He entered the Benedictine Monastic Community of Saint Vincent Archabbey in 1942. He made simple profession of vows on July 2, 1943, and solemn profession of vows on July 11, 1946. He was ordained a priest at Subiaco Abbey, Italy, by the Most Rev. Lorenzo Salvi, O.S.B., on December 7, 1947.

He has given a series of lectures in England to the Union of Monastic Superiors, comprising all the abbots and abbesses of the Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland, and has given a number of retreats in England, Ireland and Taiwan. He has given retreats to most of the Benedictine monasteries in the United States and for bishops of thirteen states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. He is a major contributor and one of the editors of the Collegeville Pastoral Dictionary of Biblical Theology. He has also contributed to the New Jerome Bible Commentary. He has written numerous articles for The American Benedictine Review and The New Catholic Encyclopedia.

He has served as a member of the Commission for Christian Unity of the Diocese of Greensburg (1963–80); as charter member of the East Coast Rectors’ Conference (1964–80) and as past-president (1972–74); as a member of the Faith and Order Committee of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches (1971–76); as a member of the Council of the Abbot President of the American Cassinese Congregation of the Benedictine Order (1973–85). He also served as a professor in Duquesne University’s Institute of Formative Spirituality (1978–85); as a representative to the Pennsylvania Conference on Interchurch Cooperation (1981–90) and chairman of its Committee on Theological Consultation (1982–90); as a member of the Board of Incorporators of Saint Vincent College, Inc. and as a member of the Board of Directors of Saint Vincent College.