ORDINARY PROFESSOR of General Linguistics; Semantics, Greek Linguistics; Greek koinè; Greek New Testament; Theory of translation and pedagogy of ancient languages,
Dean of Polis Institute,
Member of the editorial board of the Revue Biblique.

⇒ Contact:

French, born on 25 June 1962 in Murcia (Spain).

– French (read, written, spoken)
– Spanish (read, written, spoken)
– English (read, written, spoken)
– Modern Hebrew (read, written, spoken)
– Arabic dialect of Jerusalem (spoken)
– Italian (spoken)

– Ancient Greek (read, written, spoken)
– Latin (read, written, spoken)
– Ancient Hebrew (read)

Academic degrees
1985: MA in Greek Linguistics (University of Aix-Marseille III)
1990: Agregation of grammar
1992: Doctorate Thesis in Greek linguistics (Paris IV)
2011: Authorization to conduct research (University of Strasbourg)
Since 1993: Professor of Ancient Greek and Greek Semantics at EBAF
Since 1995: Associate Professor at the University of Strasbourg
1993-2001: Professor of Latin and French at the Lycée Français de Jérusalem
2001-2008: Visiting Professor at the Department of French at the Hebrew University (Jerusalem)
Since 2011: Professor of Ancient Greek at the Polis Institute

Current Research Locations
Since 1993: École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem
Since 2011: Institut Polis


This year, the library team has grown in a unique way; after decades of being run by three people (the librarian and two volunteers), the School library is now home to a team of seven people: the librarian and six assistants.

The latest addition is Amir Abdallah, an Arabic-speaking Palestinian who has been employed full time since the beginning of the academic year. The team is also composed of Gaia Cecconi, an Italian archaeologist student-volunteer; Marianne Roman, an Israeli of Hungarian origin, who already has a long experience as a librarian and works part-time; Emily Johnson, a Canadian volunteer who is full-time in the library; Evelyn Ishiida, an Israeli of Russian origin, also full-time; Isabelle Dauphin, a French DCC volunteer who is also a career librarian; and finally Bernard Ntamak Songué, our librarian, of Cameroonian nationality.

The variety of nationalities of the team members embodies the cultural and intellectual diversity that is present in the library of the School. This internationalisation is particularly interesting from a linguistic point of view, as the team is able to read or speak a dozen languages (Russian, Hungarian, Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic, Biblical Greek, French, English, German, Italian, etc.), which makes it possible to carry out a review of an increasingly large number of works. It is this work of analysing books by chapter, periodicals by article and the Bible by pericope and Bible verse that allows researchers to find precise references by keyword in the catalogue of our library.

Thanks to this team, the library was also able to do an extraordinary job during last year’s general inventory. This general physical inventory of the library dealt with all the items in the library of the École Biblique, i.e. more than 200,000 volumes. This work, which lasted seven months, made it possible to list the books in need of repair, to find some lost books, and to reorganise the collections.

The library now hopes to develop the maintenance and computer monitoring of its catalogue.


Despite the health crisis, the École is continuing its activities and preparing for the start of the new school year. The programmes and course descriptions as well as the timetable and calendar for the academic year 2020-2021 have just been published on our site. You can now consult them by clicking here.

Welcome to the new teachers!

Four lecturers will be joining the ranks of the École Biblique’s teaching staff.

Philippe Van den Heede, Doctor in French Literature (UCLouvain) and in Theology (Ruhr-Universität Bochum), will give a course in the first semester entitled “Jesus, exegete of God. The Theology of Revelation in the Gospel of John”. Through reading the fourth Gospel, students and teachers will reflect on how Jesus both teaches about the Father is himself an exegesis of the Father.

The first semester course “Israel and Judah in the Age of Mesopotamian Empire” will be taught by Yigal Bloch, post-doctoral student in history and archaeology and curator at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Therein he will examine Mesopotamian sources from the first millennium B.C. in order to better understand the relationship between Israel and Judah on the one hand, and their imposing neighbors on the other.

Eugen J. Pentiuc, Ph.D. Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Harvard University), will teach two courses in the second semester. “Byzantine (Eastern Orthodox) Modes of Biblical Interpretation” will introduce Byzantine culture, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Biblical hermeneutics in that context. “Hosea and the B.E.S.T.: Looking Behind the Scenes” has been developed as a seminar-workshop. Students will analyze and revise the notes made by Bible in its Traditions reaserchers for the book of Hosea.

Michael Langlois, Doctor of Historical and Philological Sciences (EPHESorbonne) and lecturer authorized to direct research (University of Strasbourg), will give a course on “The Literature of Qumran” during the second semester, wherein he will exposit this most important body of literature discovered on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Renewal of the training offer

In addition to the lessons given by these new lecturers, the brochure for the first and second semesters has been completely redesigned. The proposals for language courses remain unchanged and there will be no doctoral seminars this year. However, 12 other new courses will be taught by regular teachers of the École Biblique.

In the first semester:
— Lukasz Popko, o.p. : Edition of 1 Kings for the Biblia Hebraica Quinta. Seminar in Text-criticism.
— Paolo Garuti, o.p. : Initiation à la rhétorique ancienne pour l’étude du Nouveau Testament.
— Dominic Mendonca, o.p. : Mark and John: Dialectic between the two Gospels.
— Martin Staszak, o.p. : Le Règne de Salomon.
— Christophe Rico : Arbre de vie ou bois vivant : analyse d’un symbole.

In the second semester:
— Paul-Marie Fidèle Chango, o.p. : Temporalité et altérité de l’espérance : le champ sémantique de l’espérance dans Proverbes, Job, Qohélet, Siracide et Sagesse de Salomon.
— Paolo Garuti, o.p. : Dire « dieu(x) » à l’époque du Nouveau Testament.
— Dominic Mendonca, o.p. : The Gospel of Mark: Christology and the Use of Hebrew Scriptures.
— Marc Girard : Les Psaumes – Livre 1 (Ps 1-41) : de l’exégèse à la prière.
— Martin Staszak, o.p. : Les annales des rois d’Israël et de Juda, les cercles narratifs et la rédaction deutéronomiste.

In the first and second semesters:
— M.-Augustin Tavardon, o.c.s.o. : Pères grecs, Pères latins et Réformateurs face à la doctrine du Salut – Réception et tradition chrétienne de Rom. 4 d’Origène à Karl Barth.
— Étienne Nodet, o.p. : L’évolution de Paul.


The École Biblique welcomes every year and for the whole year two scholarship holders from the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. At the end of the second semester, each scholar must submit a single research paper to both institutions. During this academic year 2019-2020, Xavier Lafontaine, doctoral student in religious sciences and Greek philology, has chosen to work on the following theme: “A semantic study of wonder in the New Testament” (originally in French: « Une étude sémantique de l’étonnement dans le nouveau Testament »).

“The application for the scholarship of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-Lettres at the EBAF requires one to submit a research paper at the end of his stay. As I have taken pleasure in following a number of courses and seminars this year, I have chosen to propose this thesis to the EBAF Academic Council in order to apply for validation of the EBAF’s student title (which is not obligatory): the approach to biblical texts according to the methods of semantics proposed by M. Christophe Rico attracted me and allowed me to renew my training in classical literature and comparative grammar, followed between France and Germany until my agrégation in grammar in 2015.

Anyone who has had some contact with Greek philosophers or who has been introduced to philosophy by the famous work of the Swiss philosopher Jeanne Hersch knows the importance of the link between wonder and thought; but the Gospel accounts also often mention the wonder of their protagonists and the witnesses they portray. Just think of the Annunciation, the miracles performed by the figure of Jesus or the accounts of the Resurrection: these narrative details give an incarnate colouring to the Gospels that has always fascinated me. So my curiosity was aroused when M. Rico spoke of the interest that a linguistic study of the expression of wonder in the New Testament could stimulate!

Our modern translations often use terms related to wonder or surprise to render different Greek terms, verbs or nouns, which overlap while remaining distinct. This work proposes first a semantic description which aims at giving tools to better appreciate and understand the richness of the Greek language on this point—I hope to have time to deepen it in order to propose an article. It is then up to the exegetes, if they wish, to appropriate its conclusions. This linguistic method applied to the New Testament in fact makes it possible to take a step back from exegesis and to reconsider these texts from an external point of view. One can then compare them, as a linguistic system, with related literary works, to shed light on their similarities and specificities, here on the lexical level.

My conclusions concern first of all the structure of the semantic domain of wonder as it can be reconstructed from its usage in the New Testament: the least marked term is thaumázein, to wonder or marvel, which makes it possible to describe the fundamental emotion of wonder. I was also surprised to note the rather significant differences in the place given to this emotion from one evangelist to another, or in comparison with the epistles: for example, there is little wonder in John or in the Apocalypse—though this does not mean that this emotion is not important. Mark is the only one to insist on wonder as stupor, using the verb (ek)thambeîsthai, to be amazed, even to be afraid, which is rare in the Greek of that time. The other authors more readily describe wonder from the physical or cognitive impact it has on the person experiencing it: a shock (ekplḗssesthai) or a profound cognitive alteration, which can go, in rare cases, as far as a modification of consciousness (existánai, exístasthai, ekstasis which gives ecstasy in English). Fear, phóbos, is sometimes close, but the terms generally preserve the fundamental idea of an emotion that arises in the face of the unexpected or the extraordinary—the latter merges into fear only when the unexpected is perceived as a threat, immediate or more blurred : in Gethsemane, Mark presents Jesus as experiencing fear and anguish by coordinating ekthambeîsthai kai adēmoneîn (Mk 14:33) ; the porosity of the two areas, exploited by the evangelist, is perceptible, for here it is no longer exactly a question of being amazed!

Working simultaneously on my doctoral research and on this dissertation has been a great stimulus for me: doctoral work involves a continuous, sometimes arid, reflection over several years. This dissertation is part of a more modest framework, where reflection is concentrated over one year. My doctoral thesis is a literary and formal analysis of the Jewish and Christian Sibylline Oracles, a collection of oracles written in Greek poetic language. The oracles’ ancient editors claim that the Sibyl proclaims the Last Judgement and various catastrophes, interweaving biblical and epic references. Attention to the metrics and choice of words used to paraphrase the biblical episodes is constant in this work, and this has overlapped with the method used in this dissertation: starting from ongoing attention to the text and its lexicon to try to extract salient facts from it, as well as setting aside what one believes one knows a priori.

I am grateful to the AIBL, the EBAF and M. Christophe Rico for giving me a framework to explore an area that I would not necessarily have had the courage to confront without these ideal conditions.”

Xavier Lafontaine
Doctoral student in religious sciences (University of Strasbourg)
and in Greek Philology (University of Rome La Sapienza)
Fellow of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres

To consult the conditions of admission to the scholarships, click here.


As it already became a custom, at the beginning of the year, a group of young Dominican biblical scholars met at the École biblique, this year for the sixth time. The participants came from fourteen different Provinces, representing eleven nationalities and four continents.
The program consisted of presentations of personal research (papers and discussions) and a workshop on a biblical pericope. The papers were very diverse, in choosing their subjects (Deutero-Isaiah, Jeremiah, Psalms, Gospels, Revelation, New Testament Christology) and in their approach as well.
One afternoon was given to a workshop on Judges 19, using the site of the BEST project. Contrary to previous years, when the workshops were moderated by the organizing committee, it has been Bruno Clifton’s responsibility as a part of his dissertation touched on this pericope. The use of the BEST project’s approach (or rather a matrix of approaches) allowed us to work together and exchange ideas and resulted in a symphony of readings, not only one “correct” reading.
Not to limit ourselves to the classroom only, we went for a field trip to Tel Azekah. We were guided by Josef Briffa, SJ, who is an area supervisor in Lautenschläger Expedition to Azekah (among others responsibilities). The possibility to visit a site with someone who digs it is always a special privilege and an outstanding opportunity to know the site through the excavator’s eyes.
The symposium was organized by Olivier Catel, Christopher Brannan, and I.

Jakub Bluj, OP


“I am brother Augustinus Aerssens. I come from the Province of the Netherlands and am in the third year of simple vows. At the moment I am finishing my MA in Theology at Fribourg University (Switzerland) and I have started my MA in Hebrew and Aramaic Studies at Leiden University (the Netherlands). I came to the École Biblique for the ‘Bible in Jerusalem 2020’ conference because I am preparing for a further specialisation in Biblical Studies and the École Biblique is the place to be. I am attending the ‘Bible in Jerusalem’, for the second time and so far I have enormously appreciated the exchange with other Dominican Biblical scholars. I think it is a unique concept for Dominicans from all over the world from within one particular theological and academic discipline to unite, present their research to each other, and build up a Dominican scholarly network. The participation in the B.E.S.T. (Bible en ses traditions) project has been wonderful as well, because it requires brothers to sit together and work on a common project, thereby exchanging ideas and expertise and transforming them into one final product that will in the future hopefully help many, both in preaching and in research. It could not be more Dominican!”

Augustinus Aerssens, OP


“My name is Luke K. Bett, OP from the Dominican Vicariate of Eastern Africa, Kenya. Currently I live in Santa Sabina Convent in Rome where I am finishing my studies for a Sacred Scriptures License at the Biblical Institute. My thesis is a narrative analysis of Jn 1:45-51, Seeing as a consequence of Believing in the call of Nathanael.
I am here to participate in this year’s ‘Bible in Jerusalem’ conference which is first and foremost a gathering of brothers having a common interest – study of the Holy Scriptures. In BIJ were share fraternally the fruits of study, challenge and encourage each other and hence grow intellectually as a brotherhood. The BIJ grants a noble avenue not only to know brothers from different parts of the world but also to savor the diverse approaches and methods of studying the Scriptures, to learn from each other, and to encourage one another.
This year’s BIJ was well organized with interesting presentations and an archaeological visit that granted the opportunity to learn new things.”

Luke Bett, OP



Luke Bett (Kenya, Saint-Joseph), Łukasz Popko (Poland), Jacek Pietrzak (Poland), Anthony Giambrone (USA, Saint-Joseph), Olivier Catel (France), Edgar Toledo Ledezma (Paraguay), Jordan Schmidt (USA, Saint-Joseph), Osvaldo Robles Segovia (Bolivia), Bruno Clifton (England), Pierre de Marolles (France, Province of Swiss), Renaud Silly (France, Province of Toulouse), Christopher Brannan (USA, Saint Nom), Gianpaolo Pagano (Italy, S. Thomas), Jose Rafael Reyes (Spain), Augustinus Aerssens (Netherlands), Jorge Vargas (Mexico), Jakub Bluj (Poland).


Fête nationale à Jérusalem

Comme chaque année, à l’occasion de la fête nationale française, l’École biblique a hissé le drapeau tricolore au sommet du clocher de sa basilique, accompagné du drapeau européen. Le drapeau français ne flotte que deux fois dans l’année : le 14 juillet et le jour de la fête de saint Étienne, le 26 décembre, marqué par la fameuse messe consulaire.

© Patriarcat latin de Jérusalem

Lors de ces messes consulaires, tradition spécifique de Jérusalem, le Consul général de France reçoit les honneurs liturgiques : présentation du bénitier à l’entrée, placement au premier rang à droite, baiser de l’évangéliaire, encensement particulier avant les fidèles, et en fin de messe, chant du Domine, salvum fac rem publicam.

La fête nationale est doublement fêtée à Jérusalem. Ce 14 juillet l’église Sainte-Anne, domaine français dans la Vieille Ville, a accueilli M. le Consul général Pierre Cochard et la communauté française : la traditionnelle messe consulaire fut présidée par Mgr Fitzgerald en fin d’après-midi, et puis tous se sont rassemblés autour d’un cocktail au cours duquel le Consul a prononcé son discours.

Elle fut nouveau célébrée le 15 juillet au Consulat français, en Jérusalem Ouest, compte-tenu de la situation politique particulière de la ville. Hier soir, les Français ont chaleureusement soutenu l’équipe française dans les jardins du Consulat, avant de partager le dîner à la tombée du jour. Les différents représentants religieux, chrétiens et juifs, étaient présents.

Cette fête est l’occasion de réunir les Français de Terre Sainte, quelques soient leurs communautés.

Dans ces deux lieux, le Consul général de France a prononcé un discours clair et courageux sur la position de la France par rapport au statut de Jérusalem, question qui a beaucoup fait débat au cours de cette année. Le ton et le contenu de cette déclaration ont été très appréciés par les membres présents de l’École biblique.