Catholic Theological Society of America

Catholic Theological Society of America


John Courtney Murray Award 2009
David B. Burrell, C.S.C.

On March 1, 1933, in Akron, Ohio, Roger and Nancy gave birth to one of their five children.  That child grew into a tough-minded, yet generous, scholar.  That child today receives the John Courtney Murray Award from the CTSA for excellence in theology.

Our awardee attended Kings grade school and St. Vincent’s high school and graduated from college in 1954.  Our awardee joined a religious community the next year and went to Rome and became a person enamored with the people and thought which originated in the Mediterranean basin. An S.T.L. was earned in 1960 and the Ph.D. from Yale in 1965.  Our awardee has served the alma mater from 1964 to the present.  Some 16 dissertations have been directed, 9 books authored, 3 books translated, 5 books edited or co-edited, 122 academic articles published…as of last count, so far.

Our awardee found in the Congregation of the Holy Cross a family of women and men dedicated to serving one another and the people of God. Our awardee has been a visiting scholar or professor at a number of institutions, but key was service at the National Major Seminary in Dharka, Bangladesh, in 1975 where our awardee became fascinated with Islam.

By now I suspect most of you know who this son of Notre Dame is.  He has made truly significant contributions in philosophical theology, philosophy of religion, comparative theology and understanding Islamic philosophy.  His work on the doctrine of God and creation in the medieval period has been a major contribution to interfaith understanding and to recognizing the crucial difference that the doctrine of creation makes in the appropriation of Greek philosophy in the monotheistic religious traditions.  I suspect, though, that too few of us know that he served many years before and after his ordination to the presbyterate in 1969 as chaplain in the residence halls and graduate students’ housing section of Notre Dame.  He has counseled hundreds and witnessed scores of marriages.

Our awardee has carried on a dialogue with strands in Anglo-American philosophy of religion throughout his career; his work in this area has influenced me since I was a graduate student, and over the last few years I have especially appreciated some of his key insights in philosophical theology.

It is quite some time since the Society has given the John Courtney Murray award to a scholar whose home field is philosophical theology.  One may disagree with him on theological and philosophical issues, but everyone who knows him knows that he is a mensch.

May I ask you to welcome the 2009 John Courtney Murray Awardee, the Theodore M. Hesburgh C.S.C. professor emeritus of philosophy and theology of the University of Notre Dame and professor of ethics and development at Uganda Martyrs’ University, Nkozi, Uganda, David B. Burrell, C.S.C.

Award text for 2009: David B. Burrell, C.S.C. (pdf file)


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