Feast of Mitchell J. Dahood (February 7)   Leave a comment

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Above:  My Copies of Dahood’s Commentaries on the Book of Psalms

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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MITCHELL J. DAHOOD (FEBRUARY 2, 1922-MARCH 8, 1982)

Roman Catholic Priest and Biblical Scholar

Mitchell J. Dahood was a Roman Catholic priest, a Jesuit, a prominent scholar of Semitic languages, and a translator and exegete of the Book of Psalms.

The priest, from a family of Lebanese ancestry, entered the world at Anaconda, Montana, on February 2, 1922.  He joined the Society of Jesus at age 19 in 1941.  Our saint studied at Boston College then did his graduate work (M.A. and Ph.D.) at The Johns Hopkins University.  At Johns Hopkins Dahood earned his doctoral degree in 1951.  He wrote his dissertation on the Hebrew text of Koheleth under the direction of Professor William Foxwell Albright, who went on to serve as a General Editor of The Anchor Bible series.  Dahood, ordained to the priesthood in 1954, relocated to Rome two years later.  There he, as Chair of Northwest Semitic Languages, faculty of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, for more than a quarter of a century and Dean of the Oriental faculty from 1975 to 1978, studied the relationship among classical Hebrew, Ugaritic, and Ebliate.  During the last 30 years of his life Dahood wrote books and more than 200 articles and reviews.  He was also a leading scholar of the ancient Syrian kingdom of Ebla.

Among Dahood’s books were the three volumes (1965, 1968, and 1970) on Psalms for The Anchor Bible series.  He, the world’s leading expert on the Ugaritic language, brought his knowledge of that language on bear to his translations of the texts.  A professor of the Old Testament at Northwestern University said teasingly:

I wish Dahood would quit applying his Ugarit to the Psalms because it ruins all the ones I long ago memorized.

Dahood, a kind and friendly man with many friends all over the world, died suddenly at Rome on March 8, 1982.  The 60-year-old priest and scholar was praying at a church.  Father William Ryan, secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, stated:

He was the most alive man we had.  He was interested in music, politics, [and] sports.  He was a great scholar.  This came as a terrible blow.  We hadn’t the slightest indication he was ill.

Dahood’s scholarship continues to help serious students of the Bible study the Book of Psalms and deepen their faith and their understanding of those texts.  I have been fortunate to have been among those students for years.

Thank you, Father Dahood!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK COOK ATKINSON, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMEHAMEHA IV AND EMMA ROOKE, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Mitchell J. Dahood and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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