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Chaim Cohen

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One of the recent collections added to the Lanier Theological Library came from Chaim Cohen.  It is an amazing collection of books, thousands, mostly in Hebrew. 61O4RLcWiTL._AC_US218_.

Chaim Cohen (1947-2017) was a world-renowned biblical linguist.  Through his career the American-born scholar showed the benefits of reading biblical Hebrew in the light of texts written in Akkadian and Ugaritic, two ancient Semitic languages that have not been spoken in 3000 years.  Instead of being written on parchment (animal skin), Akkadian and Ugaritic were inscribed upon clay tablets and predate written Hebrew.  Cohen’s comparative work helped to clarify the meanings and usages of many obscure Hebrew words and phrases. He taught in the departments of Hebrew Language and Bible at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. This gentle, humble man believed his research could help situate religious faith in a “respectable academic framework,” for both secular and religious Israelis.

Friends who knew him said he delighted in the study of the Bible more than anyone they had ever met.  He was a living, walking Book of the Torah.  Cohen loved being a cohen, that is, a priest, and would regularly recite the priestly prayer (Num 6:24-26) with passion and grace.  Cohen also loved music, and he trained generations of readers in how best to read and recite Scripture publicly for worship.


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