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Freyne, Seán 1934(?)–

Freyne, Seán 1934(?)–


Born c. 1934. Education: National University of Ireland, B.A., 1956; Pontifical University, B.D., 1959; Pontifical Biblical Institute, Licentiate in Sacred Scripture, 1962; Saint Thomas University, S.T.D., 1965.


Office—Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland. E-mail[email protected]


St. Columban's Missionary Seminary, Dalgan Park, Navan, Ireland, lecturer in Biblical studies, 1965-69; Pontifical University, Maynooth, Ireland, lecturer and professor of New Testament, 1969-75; Loyola University, New Orleans, LA, professor, 1976-79; University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, department of studies in religion, lecturer, 1979-80; Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, dead of School of Hebrew, Biblical and Theological Studies, 1980-97, professor of theology, 1980-2002, director of Center for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies, 2002—. Served as visiting lecturer or guest lecturer at universities, including Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA; University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN; Tulane University, New Orleans, LA; St. George's College, Jerusalem; Lund University, Sweden; University of Edinburgh, Scotland; Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Auckland University, New Zealand; and Melbourne School of Divinity, Australia.


Royal Irish Academy, Irish Biblical Association, Irish Theological Association, Catholic Biblical Association of America, Society for the Study of the New Testament, Society of Biblical Literature, American Society of Oriental Research, European Association for the Study of Judaism.


The Twelve: Disciples and Apostles: A Study in the Theology of the First Three Gospels, Sheed & Ward (London, England), 1968.

Galilee, from Alexander the Great to Hadrian, 323 B.C.E. to 135 C.E.: A Study of Second Temple Judaism, M. Glazier (Wilmington, DE), 1980.

The World of the New Testament, M. Glazier (Wilmington, DE), 1980, reprinted, Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN), 1990.

Truth and Its Victims, T. & T. Clark (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1988.

Galilee, Jesus, and the Gospels: Literary Approaches and Historical Investigations, Fortress Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1988.

The Bible and Its Readers, SCM Press (London, England), 1991.

Messianism through History, SCM Press (London, England), 1993.

The Bible as Cultural Heritage, SCM Press (London, England), 1995.

Pilgrimage, SCM Press (London, England), 1996.

Is the World Ending?, SCM Press (London, England), 1998.

Galilee and Gospel: Collected Essays, Mohr Siebeck (Tübingen, Germany), 2000, Brill Academic Publishers (Boston, MA), 2002.

Jesus, a Jewish Galilean: A New Reading of the Jesus Story, T & T Clark International (New York, NY), 2004.

Recognizing the Margins: Developments in Biblical and Theological Studies: Essays in Honour of Seán Freyne, Columba Press (Dublin, Ireland), 2006.


Seán Freyne is a writer and educator specializing in theology and biblical studies. He began his education at the National University of Ireland, where he earned his undergraduate degree, then continued on at Pontifical University, Pontifical Biblical Institute, and finally Saint Thomas University. He also holds an honorary degree from Trinity College in Dublin, where he is a member of the faculty and the director of the Center for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies. He has also taught at a number of other institutions, including St. Columban's Missionary Seminary, Pontifical University, Loyola University in New Orleans, and the University of Queensland in Australia. Freyne has served as a visiting professor at universities including Harvard Divinity School, University of Notre Dame, Tulane University, St. George's College, in Jerusalem, Lund University, in Sweden, University of Edinburgh, Canadian Mennonite University, Auckland University, and the Melbourne School of Divinity. His primary areas of academic and research interest include early Christian history and literature, the social and religious world of Galilee during both the Roman and Hellenistic periods, the history of Jesus studies, and the integration of historical and archaeological findings with the social, cultural, and religious information held regarding Hellenistic and Roman Palestine. He is the author of a number of books on Jesus, the apostles, and the New Testament.

In Galilee and Gospel: Collected Essays, Freyne gathers fourteen papers on the subject of Galilee and its relationship to the gospels. Freyne has included an introduction to help readers understand the current state of research into the subject and what materials have been gathered in recent years, giving added perspective to the work as a whole. The essays themselves cover a wide range of topics, including Herodian economics in Galilee, the relationship between archeology and the acquisition of historical information pertaining to the life and death of Jesus, and another on Galilee and the Messiah. In a review for the Journal for the Study of the New Testament, one contributor remarked that "what comes through in Freyne's essays … is the importance of maintaining a balance between archaeological and literary sources."

Freyne's Jesus, a Jewish Galilean: A New Reading of the Jesus Story is a historical look at the life of Jesus, focusing in particular on his days in Galilee and the effect that had on the rest of his life. Freyne looks at Jesus' upbringing as a Jew, his understanding of Jewish scriptures, and his background in general, opposing the general opinion that the Galilee of his day had been Hellenized. While many writers use the life of Jesus as a first chapter of Christianity, Freyne reminds readers that Jesus was indeed raised as a Jew and that his understanding of Old Testament scripture would have served as a strong foundation for the ways he lived his life and the example he later set for mankind.

Regarding Galilee as a place, Freyne provides a thorough background of the region, showing how Jesus would have connected to the environment he lived in and how that would have been another foundation for the way he traveled and placed emphasis on natural surroundings. His relationship to plants, animals, and nature in general was another way of illustrating that God is everywhere, and that his presence provides for physical needs as well as spiritual and emotional ones. Freyne also looks at how Jesus' relationship to nature would have affected his means of prayer, and how changes in the environment around him might have likewise altered his approach, depending on whether he spoke from a place of abundance or one of deprivation.

Many of the teachings that Freyne highlights present Jesus in a fair and logical light, in which he encourages people to share what they have and negotiate for that which they need, rather than using force to come out the victor in any skirmish. He also broadens his outlook to include Jerusalem and the areas where Jesus traveled, though Galilee itself remains his major focus as a formidable influence on Jesus and the way he taught. As Freyne reflects on Jesus' death in particular, he looks at the role of Jerusalem and how it ultimately connects to the eventual revival of Israel.

Mark Allan Powell, in a review for Interpretation, remarked that "a strength of Freyne's study is its internal consistency—most of his propositions about Jesus can be related to the central thesis that a primary identification of God as Creator served to inform Jesus' appropriation of certain aspects of the traditions available to him." He concluded of the book that it is "an important study that will give researchers much to consider for years to come." Writing for the Biblical Theology Bulletin, Douglas E. Oakman opined that "when Freyne reads the historical Jesus through southern/Judean lenses …, he is at his least persuasive; when he situates Jesus within the historical Galilee emerging from the intersection of social history and archaeology, he is at his best."



America, December 6, 1980, George MacRae, review of The World of the New Testament, p. 372.

Biblical Theology Bulletin, March 22, 2006, Douglas E. Oakman, review of Jesus, a Jewish Galilean: A New Reading of the Jesus Story, p. 40.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly, July 1, 1990, Sean P. Kealy, review of Galilee, Jesus, and the Gospels: Literary Approaches and Historical Investigations, p. 555.

Choice, September 1, 2005, P.K. Moser, review of Jesus, a Jewish Galilean, p. 117.

Christianity Today, January 23, 1981, J. Julius Scott, review of Galilee, from Alexander the Great to Hadrian, 323 B.C.E. to 135 C.E.: A Study of Second Temple Judaism, p. 35; March 13, 1981, Walter A. Elwell, review of Galilee, from Alexander the Great to Hadrian, 323 B.C.E. to 135 C.E., p. 38.

Interpretation, January 1, 2006, Mark Allan Powell, review of Jesus, a Jewish Galilean, p. 88.

Irish Theological Quarterly, 2006, Volume 71, Beate Kowalski, review of Jesus, a Jewish Galilean, pp. 358-360.

Journal for the Study of the New Testament, September, 2001, review of Galilee and Gospel: Collected Essays, p. 126.

Journal of Biblical Literature, March 22, 1991, Willard M. Swartley, review of Galilee, Jesus, and the Gospels, p. 155.

Journal of Religion, January 1, 2006, Graydon F. Snyder, review of Jesus, a Jewish Galilean, p. 107.

Journal of Theological Studies, April 1, 1990, E. McKnight, review of Galilee, Jesus, and the Gospels, p. 336; October 1, 2001, Ruth B. Edwards, review of Galilee and Gospel, p. 775; October 1, 2005, M. Bockmuehl, review of Jesus, a Jewish Galilean, p. 526.

National Catholic Reporter, April 10, 1981, John J. Pilh, review of The World of the New Testament, p. 10.

Scottish Journal of Theology, March 1, 1992, D.C. Parker, review of Galilee, Jesus, and the Gospels, p. 117.

Theological Studies, March 1, 1990, John Topel, review of Galilee, Jesus, and the Gospels, p. 130.


Harvard Divinity School Web site, (May 20, 2008), faculty profile.

Trinity College Dublin Web site, (May 20, 2008), faculty profile.

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