Jim Davila fala sobre John Strugnell

Jim Davila, hoje professor na Universidade St. Andrews, na Escócia, era ainda estudante em Harvard, na década de 80, quando trabalhou com John Strugnell na reconstituição e tradução dos Manuscritos do Mar Morto.

Em seu biblioblog PaleoJudaica, Jim Davila comenta o necrológio publicado por The Boston Globe e lembra a importância de John Strugnell no trabalho com os Manuscritos do Mar Morto:

Actually, many of his friends and students, myself included, signed a statement in his defense which was published in Biblical Archaeology Review in 1991. John suffered from a bipolar mood disorder and alcoholism. And the fact is that people in the throes of a manic episode say things that they don’t mean and would not say when in their right mind. He was still to some degree in this state in 1994, when he tried, with limited success, to nuance his views in a BAR interview with Hershel Shanks. John’s problems were a part of his life, but they should be put in the context of other parts that are much more important, and indeed his acccomplishments in spite of these problems are remarkable. He made a huge contribution to the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls in terms of his own work, his administrative work, and supervising the research of his students. Those who knew him well will remember him for his vast erudition and his steadfast support of his students [sublinhado meu]. The Boston Globe piece does try to be fair, but they could have tried harder.

Estão lembrados do documentário que mencionei aqui? Pois é. Nele, John Strugnell diz que sua garantia eram seus estudantes. Fala algo mais ou menos assim [estou citando de cor]: Se eu morrer amanhã, há dez, vinte estudantes, que eu treinei, que continuarão meu trabalho. Isto é que é importante.

Quer dizer: ele sempre trabalhava, ao que tudo indica, consciente de sua doença, sabedor de sua finitude e, ao mesmo tempo, da enorme tarefa que havia para ser feita no estudo dos Manuscritos, tarefa que iria muito além de sua vida.

John Strugnell: necrologio em The Boston Globe

Ontem The Boston Globe publicou um necrológio para John Strugnell, falecido no dia 30 de novembro de 2007, sob o título

John Strugnell, 77. Especialista em Manuscritos do Mar Morto que foi demitido após comentários

Transcrevo trechos do texto, assinado por Bryan Marquard, que diz entre outras coisas:

John Strugnell was perched at a scholarly pinnacle in 1990 when he sat for an interview with a reporter from an Israeli newspaper and made the anti-Semitic remarks that effectively ended his career. As chief editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls project, he had been leading a team of translators in piecing together fragments of the ancient documents that shed light on early Judaism and Christianity. A language prodigy, Mr. Strugnell had joined the effort when he was 23 and in college. Nearly four decades later, he was heading the project and teaching at Harvard Divinity School. “He was a linguistic genius,” said Krister Stendahl, a former dean of the divinity school and a retired Lutheran bishop of Stockholm. “We brought him in to get the best man we could imagine for philological and textural criticism precision in our New Testament department.” Few colleagues, however, knew that while Mr. Strugnell labored in two high-profile jobs, he also was being treated for manic depression and struggling with alcoholism. Upon publication, his anti-Semitic comments led to his firing and public denunciations, though a few friends spoke in his defense, attributing his remarks to “mental imbalance” and a “drinking problem.” “It was not an excuse, it was reality,” said his daughter, Anne-Christine of San Rafael, Calif. “The reality was that he was diagnosed as manic depressive sometime in the early ’70s, and he was on medication for the rest of his life. I think it was amazing that he was often under treatment, and yet he managed. He remained at the top of his field and at the top of his game.” Mr. Strugnell, who continued to research and write outside the public spotlight after his dismissal, died Nov. 30 in Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge of complications from an infection. He was 77 and had lived in Arlington. “He was a brilliant scholar, very learned in many languages, and had a very sharp mind for the kind of ancient texts on which he worked,” said the Rev. Daniel J. Harrington, a New Testament professor at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge who collaborated with Mr. Strugnell on a publication drawn from the Dead Sea Scrolls. “This is very difficult work, and he trained a whole generation of people who can do this, both at Harvard and in Jerusalem.” Little of that mattered in the furor spawned by his interview with the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz that appeared in November 1990 (…)

At the time of the interview, his daughter said, Mr. Strugnell was off medication and in a sustained period of mania. “He said and did many things that horrified him when he found about it later,” she said. “My father was not anti-Semitic in any way, shape, or form.” Indeed, Mr. Strugnell’s family said, he brought Jewish scholars into the scrolls project. “The sad part was that our society’s stigma around mental illness makes it difficult for us to say, directly, the poor man was crazy at the time,” his daughter said. Said Stendahl: “He fought, even earlier, a valiant struggle with manic depression. And finally he really was not fully functional.” After he was dismissed from his chief editor post, Mr. Strugnell was hospitalized at the McLean psychiatric facility in Belmont (…)

Born in Barnet, England, he was fascinated by languages as a boy. A neighbor later told Mr. Strugnell’s daughter that he used to “walk down the street in his own particular cloud,” reading a Hebrew religious text and carrying a dictionary for reference in his other hand. He became fluent in ancient and modern languages. “I asked him once how many,” his daughter said, “and he said, ‘You mean read, write, and speak?’ And he sighed and said, ‘Umm, nine.’ ” Mr. Strugnell graduated from St. Paul’s School in London, where he was a scholarship student, and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oxford University’s Jesus College. He set aside his doctorate work to join the scholars working on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Teaching positions followed. He spent a year at Oriental Institute in Chicago, where he met Cecile Pierlot. They married in 1958, separated in the mid-1970s, and later divorced. In 1960, he began teaching at Duke University, and in 1966 moved to Harvard Divinity School, where most recently he was professor emeritus of Christian origins…

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