Monday, January 25, 2016

Ephraim Avigdor Speiser

A RENOWNED BIBLICAL SCHOLAR: This Day in Jewish History 1902: A Man Who Spoke Hittite and Changed the View of Israelite History Is Born. His digs in Mesopotamia and command of dead languages and 5,000-year old legal documents led Ephraim Speiser to new insights into our past (David B. Green, Haaretz).
January 24, 1902, is the birthdate of Ephraim Speiser, a historian and archaeologist whose excavations in Mesopotamia and philological research did much to advance understanding of ancient Near Eastern cultures, including that of the Israelites.

He died in 1965. His Anchor Bible commentary on Genesis was published near the end of his life. It is still useful, but it is very dated and everyone now agrees that he got carried away with the parallels between the patriarchal narratives and the Hurrian texts from Nuzi.