Alan D. Crown, emeritus professor of Semitic studies at the University of Sydney (Australia), where he also earned his Ph.D., died last November after suffering a stroke. He was 78.
Crown was a renowned scholar of Samaritan studies. His work made him one of the foremost experts on the Abisha Scroll, a copy of the Samaritan Pentateuch that was supposedly penned by Aaron’s great-grandson Abisha, and he received a grant to produce a critical edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch.
Crown was also well known for dismissing the popular Essene connection to the site of Qumran. Based on historical trade routes and archaeological evidence, Crown (who was originally trained in geography) and his student Lena Cansdale argued that Qumran was instead a caravanserai, or ancient hostel, where eastern merchants and travelers could rest and dine on their way to and from Jerusalem.
He received the Order of Australia for services to education and was the joint master and chairman of Mandelbaum House, the Jewish residential college at the University of Sydney.