Dead Sea scrolls scholar dies after cancer battle

By Anna Sheinman, May 17, 2013

The man who translated the Dead Sea scrolls has died of cancer, aged 88.

Professor Geza Vermes was one of the first scholars to study the scrolls when they were discovered in 1947, and wrote the standard English translation.

As professor emeritus of Jewish studies at Oxford, he was also known for his research into the Jewishness of Jesus.

He was born in Hungary in 1924 to Jewish parents who were killed in the Holocaust. After the war he was ordained as a Catholic priest but returned to Judaism in 1957 when he moved to Britain. He told the JC that he considered himself “someone who belongs to Judaism without practising it and who has a great respect for certain teachings in Christianity.”

He became a member of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in north London and a member of the academic committee of Leo Baeck College.

The president of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, David Ariel, described him as “a lovely human being and a friend and mentor to many of us. He will be deeply missed.”

Prof Vermes is survived by his second wife and three stepchildren.

Last updated: 1:04pm, May 17 2013