Alumni Association of The Pontifical North American College

James Flanagan




Retired Catholic priest and distinguished biblical scholar James W. Flanagan died peacefully in his home in Cedar Rapids on Sept. 1, 2015.

Flanagan grew up on a family farm near Monti, Iowa. He was awarded a bachelor's degree from Loras College in 1958, a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree (1960), a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (1962) from Gregorian University in Rome and his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1971.

Flanagan was ordained a priest in Rome in 1961. After completing his Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame in 1971, he did post-doctoral research at the University of Michigan and Cambridge University in the fields of Near Eastern studies and social anthropology and archaeology. He taught at Loras College (1964-1973), the University of Michigan (1973-1976), and the University of Montana (1976-1986), where he chaired the Religious Studies Department and served as associate director of Scholars Press.

In 1986, Flanagan was appointed the Paul J. Halligan Visiting Professor of Catholic Studies while on leave from the University of Montana. In April 1990, he became professor of religion with tenure at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In March 1991, he became the Paul J. Halligan Professor of Catholic Studies at CWRU. He was made Paul J. Halligan Professor of Catholic Studies Emeritus in 2002.

Flanagan's scholarly work involved archaeological excavations in Tell Gezer (Israel), Babe dh-Dhra (Jordan), Tell Qarqur (Syria), and related field work in Saudi Arabia and North Yemen. Flana-gan co-launched the Tell Nimrin Project, an archaeological expedition to the Jordan Valley in 1985. The excavation continued for several years and yielded a number of important discoveries.

Beginning in 1996, Flanagan focused on the publication and presentation of data in a groundbreaking fashion via the then-nascent World Wide Web. Virtual Nimrin presented findings of the Tell Nimrin Project though a collaboration with Case Western Reserve University and Virginia Tech. It included electronic versions of field books, selected photos and publishable drawings, as well as a comprehensive collection of reports and a selection of rare texts in archaeology called the Etana Core Texts.

Flanagan retired from active field work after the 1995 season at Tell Nimrin, and from Case Western Reserve University in 2002.

Flanagan was preceded in death by his parents, James P. and Agnes Flanagan; and his sister, Roseann Flanagan of Monti.

He is survived by his sister, Mary Pat (Flanagan) Holub and her husband, Dorance, of Monti; his nieces and nephews, Jim, Maureen, Roseann, Dan and Tim Holub; as well as his great-nieces and great-nephews, TD, Michael and Ashley Holub.

Services for Flanagan will be conducted at St. Patrick's Church in Monti. Wake services will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6. The funeral Mass will be 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 7.

Arrangements by Murdoch Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Marion.

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