Sunday, June 13, 2010
O How the Mighty Have Fallen! Reflections on the Passing of Weinfeld, Greenberg, and Milgrom
In the past eighteen months, biblical scholarship has been deeply impoverished by the loss of three of the greats of the Israeli biblical guild: Moshe Weinfeld (April 2009), Moshe Greenberg (May 2010), and Jacob Milgrom (June 2010).
These were three of my favorite scholars of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, and I want to acknowledge the deep debt I owe them in my own formation as a biblical scholar. My dissertation was profoundly influenced by Weinfeld’s work on the ancient Near Eastern roots of the jubilee and sabbatical years, by Milgrom’s commentary on Leviticus, and Greenberg’s commentary on Ezekiel. I think my own work stands, on many issues, broadly within the approach these men adopted toward the Hebrew Scriptures, and I think they would be pleased with it, had they ever had opportunity to read my contributions.
Weinfeld, Greenberg, and Milgrom, I think it is fair to say, belonged to the Kaufmann School of biblical scholarship. Yehezkel Kaufmann was a brilliant philosopher and Bible scholar who taught for years at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and influenced an entire generation (or more) of Israeli academics. I don’t pretend to be an expert on Kaufmann, but in a series of posts, I plan to make some small comments about the significance of Kaufmann and the sudden passing of these three of his great intellectual heirs.