Association internationale de Papyrologues

International Association of Papyrologists

In memoriam José O'CALLAGHAN


Discours prononcé durant l'Assemblée Générale de l'AIP réunie à Helsinki le 7 août 2004
Speech delivered during the General Assembly of the AIP gathered in Helsinki on August 7th, 2004
par - by: Juan CHAPA

Fr. O'Callaghan was born in Tortosa (south of Catalunya, Spain), on the 7th of October 1922. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1940 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1952. He obtained a licentiate in Theology in 1953 and a doctorate in Philosophy and Letters at the University of Madrid in 1959. His interest in Christian culture and classical world led him to continue his studies in Milan, where he worked under the supervision of Prof. Montevecchi. In 1960 Fr. O'Callaghan obtained a doctorate in Classics at the University of Milan with his thesis Cartas cristianas griegas del siglo V.

From 1961 to 1971 Fr. O'Callaghan taught at the Faculty of Theology of San Cugat of Valles (Barcelona). During those years he founded the "Seminari de Papirologia", which he continued to direct throughout his life. Thanks to the generosity of his brother-in-law, Josep Palau Ribes, Fr. O'Callaghan was able to purchase a large number of papyri and to found the journal Studia Papyrologica (1962-1983) and two series of publications, Papyrologica Castroctaviana (1967-1988) and Estudis de Papirologia i Filologia Biblica (1991-1995).

In 1971 he was called to teach papyrology at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where he remained until his retirement in 1992. He was dean of the Biblical Faculty from 1983 to 1986. During these years he was also visiting professor at the University of Urbino.

In 1972, Fr. O'Callaghan provoked a heated discussion among New Testament scholars when he proposed that one of the Greek texts from Cave 7 of Qumran should be identified as a fragment of the Gospel of Mark. Based on this identification, he also suggested that other fragments from Cave 7 may correspond to New Testaments books. In the ensuing, occasionally bitter debate, he always knew how to maintain a reasonable and balanced distance.

From his encounter as student with another Jesuit, Fr. José María Bover, who was engaged in the preparation of a critical edition of the New Testament, Fr. O'Callaghan was also introduced to textual criticism, to which he dedicated many efforts. He published, among other works, Nuevo Testamento Trilingüe (1977) and Introducción a la crítica textual del Nuevo Testamento (1999).

Fr. José O'Callaghan died on the 15th of December, 2001 in the Jesuit infirmary at San Cugat del Valles (Barcelona), following a long illness. The memory that he leaves behind is one of a dedicated priest and scholar, a welcoming and cheerful man, who, in addition to his academic work, always knew how to find time for pastoral activities and be close to his colleagues and friends.