R.I.P. John William Wevers

World class Septuagintal scholar John William Wevers passed away last week. Here is a notice that was sent to the members of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies:

On July 23, Professor Emeritus John William Wevers, of the University of Toronto, passed away at the age of 91. Prof. Wevers was struck by a cerebral hemorrhage in the Toronto nursing home where he had lived since July 2008. A memorial service will be held in Toronto on Sept. 11.

During his long tenure at the University of Toronto, Prof. Wevers had brought the Department of Near Eastern Studies (now merged into the Dept. of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations) to unprecedented complement and quality; he himself became an undisputed master of Septuagint Studies during the last decades of the 20th century, having produced the critical edition of the whole Greek Pentateuch for the Göttingen Septuaginta Unternehmen, and added further text-critical studies, translations, and commentaries to each of the five main volumes of this edition. Prof. Wevers’s knowledge and contribution extended to several other languages; he had, in particular, made significant contributions to Classical Hebrew scholarship, as well as vigorously promoting its study at the University of Toronto.

He was one of the few scholars I know who had the mastery of the languages and texts necessary to do true textual criticism.

May his name be a blessing for future generations. R.I.P.

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One Response to R.I.P. John William Wevers

  1. Chris says:

    I was very sad to learn of Wevers’ passing as well. John Wevers and Bruce Metzger are personal heroes of mine.

    If I remember correctly, Wevers’ “Apologia pro Vita Mea” (available in a variety of sources) detailed how Dr. Wevers, from a humble farming family in Wisconsin, began studying Latin and Greek in high school. A timely word of encouragement from his teacher prompted him to go on for further studies, and he ended up mastering Arabic as well.

    Just today, I was reading in Wevers’ article “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint” (Bulletin of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies 38, 2005) how he actually had to learn Coptic and Old Armenian just to do his critical work on LXX Genesis.
    For me, this article was a real treat, because it showed that Wevers really was a “mere mortal”: He implied that when he had to learn Coptic and Armenian, he struggled with it like any normal person learning a new language. That’s priceless: One of the greatest scholars of the century was still humble enough to suggest in print that doing what he did was really tedious and hard at times.

    Truly, your reward is great in heaven, Dr. Wevers.

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