John Strugnell, former editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls project and Professor of Christian Origins emeritus at Harvard Divinity School, died on November 30 at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass after a brief illness.
Born in Barnet, England on May 25, 1930, Strugnell attended St. Paul’s School in London and read Semitic languages at Oxford. He was appointed by Father Roland de Vaux to the Cave 4 publication team in 1954 and spent the rest of his scholarly career deciphering and editing Scroll manuscripts. His major editorial accomplishments include Miqsat Ma’asê ha-Torah (with Elisha Qimron) and 4QInstruction (with Daniel J. Harrington). In 1984 Strugnell became editor-in-chief of the Scrolls publication project and was instrumental in widening the circle of scholars working on the Cave 4 manuscripts, including for the first time Jewish scholars and women. He was forced to resign from his position in 1991, in the wake of a scandal brought on by mental illness.
Strugnell taught at the University of Chicago and Duke University, and in 1966 was appointed Professor of Christian Origins at Harvard Divinity School. He will be remembered as a devoted teacher and mentor to many students, devoting countless hours to discussion and critique of their work, whether in Dead Sea Scrolls studies, early Jewish literature and history, New Testament, or Greco-Roman antiquity. In Jerusalem, where he spent half of each year in the latter part of his career, he trained a younger generation of Scrolls scholars, giving generously of his time and expertise. In all his interactions with students, he displayed his enormous erudition, ready wit, and caring nature. These students will be his true legacy to scholarship.
Strugnell is survived by a sister, five children, and five grandchildren.
—Sidnie White Crawford, Chair, Classics and Religious Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln