Brother Giambrone, acting director from October 2 to Novembre 3, oversaw a smooth start to the 2023 academic year, despite some trying circumstances.
Hieratic sphinx or majestic eagle? There is mystery in this figure that many admire. The glint in his dark eyes, his jay-black head, his sigil-like profile: in this man there is Carlo Maria Giulini – the Italian maestro. Is not the Giambrone family Italian-American? The grandfather landed in Normandy. With a mother from Montreal, brother Anthony is a very international East American and a perfect polyglot. And yet, he admits, he experienced a double expatriation. Indeed, “the École Biblique is a French island in a complicated country”…
Despite his discreet and confident nature, he is frank: “If I had one piece of advice to give? Never accept to be acting director during a war! His responsibility was to ensure the academic life of the school, freeing everyone from security considerations so that everyone could get on with their work. Mission succeeded for a young director.
This son of Ohio still recalls with emotion his arrival from the United States in February 2016. Since then, he has worked on countless projects in biblical exegesis, inspired by the genius loci of the Holy Land. Soon after defending his thesis, his provincial called him to inform that he had been assigned to Jerusalem by the Master of the Order. “It was almost a total surprise, he confides, but for a biblical scholar, it’s an honour, a privilege. What’s more, I have a deep devotion to Father Lagrange, so I’m extremely grateful to God.”
His vocation as a researcher – a “vocation within a vocation”, he insists – took shape when he joined the Dominicans in 2003, after studying as a seminarian for the Diocese of Cincinnati. With a mischievous air, he explains his path to biblical theology through a “funny story”. During his Dominican studium, his first class was taught by a “rugged Dominican, a Russian Jewish convert, a Vietnam veteran, a Harvard intellectual freak”. On reading his first paper, the latter wanted to see him. Brother Anthony remembers: “I was terrified”. The verdict? He chose Anthony as his successor and sent him to Bible studies. “The only thing I had to do was not to say no. It wasn’t my choice, but I embraced it.
The rest of the story is written by a canonical theology degree in Semitic languages, then in biblical science, and a doctorate, “Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity”. Awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Fellow prize of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, he is the author of numerous publications, most recently The Bible and the Priesthood: Priestly Participation in the One Sacrifice for Sins, Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic (2022).
In another life, he would probably have been a Franciscan in the Bronx, or would have had studied Dante, Italian and literature. Today he confides that he dreams of a life in three acts ; one academic at the École Biblique, missionary tomorrow, and chaplain to nuns one day…
Charlotte Desachy & Benoît Vandeputte, OP