Some Thoughts on a Scholar’s Scholar

In 2009, I had the privilege of sitting under Anson Rainey in his second-to-last tour of duty at Jerusalem University College (formerly known as the Institute of Holy Land Studies) where he taught for over 50 years.  I would always approach that class with great expectation – for I knew that when Prof. Rainey began to speak the scent of long-dead ANE academic battles would soon fill my nostrils.  A course with a giant like Rainey was as much about learning the methodological history of the discipline of Historical Geography (as well as the always entertaining “tit for tat” – often with the likes of Albright and the “accursed” Yadin), as it was about learning the actual historical data.

Those of you who knew Prof. Rainey – know that he was never shy of conflict, rather he invited it, he was almost always absolutely certain of his own view (the examples are limitless – Via Maris: Road to Nowhere, Bethel=Beitin, Shimron=Ghost Word – just to name a few…).  However, beneath the facade of unabashed directness rested a teacher that was always willing to both hear and offer helpful advice to student’s thoughts and questions about the ANE and even their own lives.  He will be greatly missed.

Taken March 1968 – part of the Views that Have Vanished Collection

The following is some information regarding Anson Rainey’s final resting place and the events leading up to his death from Emanuel Hausman the Chairman of Carta.

Anson was hospitalized on his eightieth birthday. A few days later he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, that had advanced far beyond the possibility of surgical intervention. Anson refused alternative treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy or life prolonging medication. Resigned to his fate, he asked for some letters to be written and messages to be sent to friends. His one wish was  that his life’s ambition, the collection of The El Amarna Letters, be completed and brought to publication.

Anson passed away on Saturday 2/19/2011 and according to his last wish was buried at Barkan overlooking the hill country of Samaria that he loved so much. Attended by family and many of his friends his funeral took place in weather as turbulent as his life and eponymously RAINY.

You may have heard this from Anson before but he often  joked that the first thing on facing GOD was to ask Him  how he pronounced  YHWH -.- May he rest in peace.


3 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on a Scholar’s Scholar

  1. Thank you so much for sharing all of this candid info. That's really touching to hear it was rainy that day.

    Minor correction to the note from the Carta chairman: "12/19/2011" s/b "2/19/2011".

  2. Thanks for sharing, Chris.I didn't have the privilege of hearing him lecture, but his legacy looms large. Without the subtitle on the picture, I could have sworn that was you showing off your six pack!

  3. I had one brush with him in the spring of 1989 at Jerusalem University College (the Institute of Holy Land Studies) while I was an undergrad student. He came through the lunch room and was engaged in a heated debate with someone (I don't remember who it was)and was really making his point on the orgin of a Ugaritic word before he ran up the back stairs and exited. He had quite the reputation as a fiery debater.

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