THE NAMES of two of the three people expected to receive this year’s Ratzinger Prize for theology were recently leaked in Rome. Apparently, one of the recipients is 65-yearold Rémi Brague, who lectures on Medieval Christian, Jewish and Muslim thought at the Sorbonne University in Paris. The other is reported to be Fr Brian E. Daley, a 72year-old New York Jesuit who teaches theology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. A third, still unnamed, winner is understood to be a biblical scholar. All three will receive the €50,000 award, which the Vatican has called the Nobel Prize of theological pursuits, during the October Synod for the New Evangelisation.
Fr Daley is a particularly interesting choice. It turns out he is a certified instructor in rowing and boxing. The “sweet science”, as it is known to boxing aficionados, has been a hobby over four decades, and is probably why he looks so fit and trim. But he has also had top-flight training in the field of patristics, the writings of the Greek and Latin Fathers of the Early Church.
After studying classics at Fordham University in New York City, he spent three years (1961-64) as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, where John Lucas tutored him in philosophy. His experience in England led him to join the Jesuits, who eventually sent him to Frankfurt to study theology under the late Jesuit patristics scholar and future Cardinal Aloys Grillmeier. Fr Daley returned to Oxford to take his doctorate in 1978 under the tutelage of Henry Chadwick.