The Boston College community, as well as the larger Catholic community, recently lost an influential figure in Rev. Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., who passed away Feb. 7 after an extended battle with cancer. A renowned biblical scholar and author, and a professor in the School of Theology and Ministry (STM), Harrington’s life was centered around the Boston area, as he attended Boston College High School, Harvard University, the former Weston Jesuit School of Theology (now combined with BC to form STM), and BC itself.
Harrington impacted not only the students in his courses, which were focused on the New Testament, but also his colleagues and the Catholic world. He worked tirelessly to make biblical texts more accessible to as many people as possible, and his ability to concisely communicate abstract concepts was admirable. Harrington has been credited as a central figure in chronicling biblical theology in recent decades and producing vital commentary on the Scriptures through his multi-volume “Sacra Pagina” series.
Despite his continuous and extensive academic pursuits-which produced more than 60 books, hundreds of articles, and tens of thousands of abstracts and book notices-Harrington could always be relied on to review his colleagues’ work and provide helpful feedback. Outside of BC, he celebrated Mass weekly at two local parishes, and strongly supported making the Scriptures open to those who did not share his theological education. After Mass one Sunday, a woman approached Harrington and asked for a copy of his homily, which she particularly enjoyed. The next morning, she found a handwritten copy of the homily in her mailbox. This level of dedication to not only his biblical study, but also his faith and community, is what set Harrington apart.
Even as he dealt with poor health in his final years, Harrington continued to teach and publish as long as he could, serving as the co-editor of the STM journal, New Testament Abstracts, until November 2013. He viewed life and confronted mortality with gratitude, patience, and kindness, and will be greatly missed as a model example of the Jesuit order.