Lawrence Boadt (1942–2010)
Rev. Lawrence Boadt, C.S.P., died at the Paulist Residence in Mahwah, New Jersey on July 24, 2010, succumbing to cancer after a fifteenth-month struggle that reflected hope and trust in God—two hallmarks of his life. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City with burial in the Paulist section of the cemetery of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Oak Ridge, New Jersey.
Born in 1942, Fr. Boadt was the son of Loren and Eleanor (Power) Boadt. He grew up in the Westwood section of Los Angeles. His family belonged to St. Paul Parish staffed by the Paulist Fathers. It was no surprise that he entered the novitiate of the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle, popularly known as the Paulist Fathers, in 1962, two years after graduating from Loyola High School. After completing studies in preparation for the Roman Catholic priesthood at St. Paul’s College in Washington, D.C., he was ordained in 1969. He served as an associate pastor of St. Andrew Church in Clemson, South Carolina before beginning his academic career.
Fr. Boadt received master’s degrees in biblical theology (1970) and in Semitic languages (1971) from the Catholic University of America and a licentiate (1972) and doctorate in Sacred Scripture (1976) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He taught briefly at Fordham University and St. John’s University in New York City before joining the faculty of Washington Theological Union, where he taught from 1976 to 1997. His students at WTU eagerly enrolled in his courses because he was a superb teacher. He led WTU’s study tours of the Holy Land often. He especially enjoyed leading the tour in Greece and Turkey that traced the missionary journeys of St. Paul, the patron of his religious congregation. Fr. Boadt left full-time teaching to become the President and Publisher of Paulist Press, a post he held until illness forced him to retire in 2009.
While an editor and then publisher at Paulist Press, Fr. Boadt oversaw the publication of scores of books each year. He was an excellent writer himself, and his Reading the Old Testament (New York: Paulist, 1985) has become a standard introductory textbook in many colleges and seminaries. It has sold over a quarter million copies. His doctoral dissertation, Ezekiel’s Oracles against Egypt: A Literary and Philological Study of Ezekiel 29–32 (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1980) is a testament to his careful and insightful scholarship. The book of Ezekiel was a topic that Fr. Boadt returned to often in his academic writing, which included more than one hundred articles and reviews in scholarly journals.
Fr. Boadt excelled at making the best of biblical scholarship available to the Christian Faithful. He led parish Bible study groups and was a sought-after lecturer with an international audience and an engaging author. He was the author, editor, or contributor to more than thirty books. In his work with Paulist Press, he helped many authors begin their publishing careers, and he was also able to enlist senior scholars in projects for the Press. His final contribution involved the editing of The Catholic Prayer Bible (New York: Paulist, 2010), designed to help with a reflective reading of the Scriptures that will lead into prayer. This project involved contributions from seventeen authors, and all were happy and honored to be part of this endeavor.
A special passion of Fr. Boadt was Christian-Jewish dialogue. Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg of the Anti-Defamation League praised Fr. Boadt as “helping to develop a historic new positive relationship between Christians and Jews.” He wrote or edited important works in this area, among which was Biblical Studies: Meeting Ground of Jews and Christians (New York: Paulist, 1980). One of his achievements at Paulist Press was the expansion of the Press’s contribution to Christian-Jewish dialogue. One would be hard pressed to name another publisher who has done more to advance this dialogue. He also served as president of the Stimulus Foundation, which was created to facilitate mutual respect and conversation between Jews and Christians through publications supporting these goals.
Fr. Boadt was an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Catholic Biblical Association. Along with Joseph Wimmer, O.S.A., his colleague from Washington Theological Union, he led the long-running Hebrew Poetry seminar at the annual meeting of the CBA. He served as its President from 1995 to 1996 and as Treasurer from 1996 until his death. He was a founding member of the Old Testament Colloquium, an informal group of Catholic scholars who meet annually to share the results of their research. Fr. Boadt was especially helpful to his colleagues in the colloquium, since his knowledge of the field Old Testament studies was near encyclopedic. The papers he presented at meetings of the colloquium were creative and stimulating, and his comments on the work of others were helpful and encouraging. For Fr. Boadt, scholarship was a genuine collaborative project, and he indeed helped make his colleagues better scholars.
Despite all his varied responsibilities and activities, Larry, as he was known to his Paulist community and many other colleagues and friends, always remained a committed, active, and beloved member of his religious congregation. His brother Paulists will surely feel his loss more than anyone else. What endeared Larry to his students, friends, and colleagues was his accessibility, his gentle wit, and his zest for life. He had a warm smile and infectious laugh. One could not be in his company for very long without feeling the joy that he exuded. He was a gentle person whose kindness and concern were obvious to all who knew him.
Fr. Boadt served the Church and the community of biblical scholars with extraordinary commitment and enthusiasm. He took most seriously the mission of the Paulist Fathers: to give the Word of God a voice in today’s world. He fulfilled this mission as a parish priest, a scholar, a teacher, an author, an editor, a lecturer, a dialogue partner, and a publisher. He seemed to be tireless and enthusiastic in carrying out the Paulist mission. Indeed, Fr. Boadt was well known among the Paulists for his work ethic. One of his brothers noted that he accomplished more before breakfast than many others did all day. That Fr. Boadt’s voice is now silenced is a genuine loss for the Church and the academy. Still, his voice can still be heard in his writings that have both introduced so many people to the Bible, enriched the Church, and engaged his fellow scholars.
Leslie J. Hoppe, OFM
Catholic Theological Union
Chicago, IL 60615