Sunday, December 23, 2007

John Strugnell Obituaries

John Strugnell, one of the original editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, passed away on November 30. The obituaries that have appeared since then tell the story of an outstanding but tragically flawed scholar, who never published much but was deeply committed to his students. Many of his students (both Jews and Gentiles), who continued to speak of him with respect even after the scandal of 1990, are now leading scholars in Dead Sea Scrolls research.
"In all his interactions with students, he displayed his enormous erudition, ready wit, and caring nature. These students will be his true legacy to scholarship." (Sidney White Crawford on the Biblical Archaeology Society website; 11 Dec)

"Krister Stendahl, a former dean of the divinity school, described Mr. Strugnell as “a linguistic prodigy” in classical and Semitic languages and “a scholar’s scholar, one you would go to when you knew your own knowledge was not enough to solve a problem.”" (NYT; 9 Dec)
"Much of Strugnell’s most important scholarly work came in the early years of his collaboration with the Dead Sea scrolls editorial team in Jerusalem. There he showed a remarkable facility in assembling fragments, deciperhing [sic] badly damaged manuscripts, and identifying texts....Perhaps even more important to Strugnell than his own publications was his commitment to train a new generation of scholars who might work successfully on Qumran texts and in the field of Second Temple Judaism. They include Harold Attridge, James H. Charlesworth, John Collins, Carol Newsom, Eileen Schuller, Thomas Tobin, and Sze-kar Wan. He gave to his doctoral students enormous amounts of time and attention, patterned after the Oxford tutorial system in which he was educated. ...He was also remarkably generous in helping other students and professors with their projects. When I once asked why he was spending several weeks poring over a huge book manuscript written by a fellow scholar, he said, “This is going to be an important book, and I want to make it as good as I can.”" (Daniel J. Harrington in The SBL Forum; 10 Dec)
Although Strugnell was not the topic of daily conversation in 2000-2001 while I was studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the one or two comments I do remember hearing were positive.

Other Obituaries:
Hanan and Esther Eshel (Jan? 2008)
Telegraph (4 Jan, 2008)
The Times Online (29 Dec)
Nouvelles de Jérusalem (English) on the École Biblique website (22 Dec; by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor)
LA Times (14 Dec)
Harvard Divinity School (11 Dec)
The Harvard Crimson (10 Dec)
Rebecca Lesses on the Mystical Politics Blog (8 Dec)
Jim Davila on PaleoJudaica (6 Dec)
The Boston Globe (5 Dec)
Dr Jim West's blog (4 Dec; by Strugnell's daughter Anne-Christine Strugnell)

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