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Professor John J. Collins honoured by his alma mater, University College Dublin

CollinsJohn J. Collins, the Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School, was awarded an honorary doctor of literature degree on June 16 by his alma mater, University College Dublin, in Ireland.

In the citation read at the degree ceremony, where Collins was one of six honorees, Collins was described as “an outstanding UCD graduate” with a “highly distinguished career” and “rightly regarded as the leading expert in the field of near-eastern apocalyptic writings.”

Reading the citation was Pádraic Conway, vice-president for university relations at University College Dublin.

Said Conway, “Among the main contributions that John Collins has made as a biblical scholar and historian of religion has been to encourage us to see the biblical text as the product of a particular time and place, rooted in the history, archaeology and literature of the Ancient Near East.

“In his work on the relationship between biblical interpretation and theology, he advocates an approach of dialogue and cross-fertilisation between the two distinct disciplines. His overall approach has been characterised as combining a lucid and detailed exposition of primary texts – where fluency in five ancient and at least as many current languages is merely an entry ticket – with responsible interaction with the best of current scholarship.”  Click here to read the entire citation (pdf).

On June 15, the day before the awards ceremony, Collins delivered a lecture entitled “The Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran in Current Scholarship” at the UCD International Centre for Newman Studies.

Each year Collins teaches an introduction to Old Testament interpretation, in addition to several other courses, which in 2009-10 will include a course on the Messiah in biblical literature, an advanced course in Biblical Hebrew poetry, and a Second Temple literature seminar.

Collins, a Roman Catholic layperson, was awarded a B.A. from Univeristy College Dublin in 1967 B.A. and an M.A. in Semitics and Classics in 1969.  He earned his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1972 in Near Eastern languages and literatures.

A native of Ireland, he was a professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Chicago from 1991 until his arrival at Yale Divinity School in 2000. He previously taught at the University of Notre Dame. He has published widely on the subjects of apocalypticism, wisdom, Hellenistic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

His books include the commentary on Daniel in the Hermeneia series; The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls; Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls; Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age; The Apocalyptic Imagination; Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora; Introduction to the Hebrew Bible with CD-ROM; Does the Bible Justify Violence?; Jewish Cult and Hellenistic Culture; Encounters with Biblical Theology; The Bible after Babel: Historical Criticism in a Postmodern Age; and King and Messiah as Son of God (with Adela Yarbro Collins). He is co-editor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism and has participated in the editing of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is general editor of the Yale Anchor Bible series. He has served as editor of the Journal for the Study of Judaism Supplements, Dead Sea Discoveries, and the Journal of Biblical Literature, and as president of both the Catholic Biblical Association and the Society of Biblical Literature.

Click here to read the University College Dublin story about the awards ceremony, which includes an audio file of the lecture by Professor John Collins entitled "The Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran in Current Scholarship".