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Renowned Bible scholar Marvin Pope dies at age 81

Noted Bible scholar Marvin H. Pope died suddenly on June 15 in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was 81 years old.

Mr. Pope was the Louis M. Rabinowitz Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages and Literatures and professor of Near Eastern languages and civilizations. He also taught at the Divinity School and in the religious studies department. Professor Pope served on the Revised Standard Version of the Bible Committee of the National Council of Churches. His scholarly specialties were the study of Ugaritic poetry and Biblical translation and commentary. He was author of "El in the Ugaritic Texts" and wrote two magisterial commentaries in the Anchor Bible Series: "Job" and "Song of Songs," for which he won the National Religious Book Award. He also published numerous scholarly works. A member of the First Church of Round Hill in Greenwich, Professor Pope died in the church, having just completed reading passages from the Bible.

Born in Durham, North Carolina, in 1916, Professor Pope earned his A.B. and his M.A. degrees in 1938 and 1939, respectively from Duke University and his Ph.D. from Yale in 1949. He served in the United States Air Force 1941-45.

Professor Pope joined the faculty at Yale in 1949 as assistant professor of Hebrew. He was appointed as associate professor in 1955 and as professor in 1964. He was named to the Rabinowitz chair in 1979 and retired from the faculty in 1986.

In 1988, to honor Professor Pope's career at Yale, his family and friends established the Marvin H. Pope Scholarship in Biblical Hebrew and the Marvin H. Pope Prize in Biblical Hebrew at the Divinity School.

"He was a master scholar and translator who was always sensitive to the nuances of languages," says Professor Pope's former student and colleague Robert Wilson, the Hoober Professor of Religious Studies. "His legacy will continue as long as the English Bible is read. He was an insightful and encouraging teacher and a helpful mentor to generations of graduate students."

William Hallo, the William M. Laffan Professor of Assyriology and Babylonian Literature, noted: "Marvin was a delightful colleague, always ready to bring his wit and wisdom to bear on arcane bits of biblical or ancient Near Eastern lore. He spent his scholarly lifetime at Yale -- 'man and boy for 40 years,' as he might have put it. He was proud to be the world's only professor of Northwest Semitic languages [a title he held 1955-64]. ... He will be sorely missed."

Professor Pope was invited to give lectures at universities throughout the world. He was twice a visiting scholar at the Institute Ugaritforschung at the University of Muenster, Germany, 1986 and 1990. During his career he received grants from the Fulbright Foundation three times and from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as other professional honors. He was a member of the American Oriental Society, the American Society for the Study of Religions and the Society for Biblical Literature, among others.

He is survived by his wife, Ingrid Brostrom Bloomquist; a son, Marvin H. Pope Jr.; a daughter, Beverly Pope; stepchildren Dennis Bloomquist, Diane B. Connelly and Laurel B. Shields; his sister, Mary Gladys Hodges; and eight grandchildren. His first wife, Helen Thompson Pope, died in 1979.

Donations for a special memorial in Professor Pope's honor may be sent to the Divinity School Building Fund, 409 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511.

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