Viewing page 35 of 136

This transcription has been completed. Contact us with corrections.

4            CURRENT BIOGRAPHY

ALBRIGHT WILLIAM F.--Continued
of passenger trains and under freight trains in approved hobo style."

He applied to Professor Paul Haupt, head of the Oriental Seminary at Johns Hopkins University and was granted a fellowship. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1916 and continued at the university on a Johnston scholar fellowship for research. He had begun a study on the ancient Near East, when toward the end of World War I, he was drafted into "limited service."

After the war, he spent a year in Jerusalem (1919-1920) on a Thayer fellowship at the American School of Oriental Research, where he studied modern Arabic and Hebrew. He was made acting director of the school in 1920 and director in 1921. During the eight years that followed, Dr. Albright directed the excavations at Gibeah (Tell el-Ful), Tell Beit Mirsim, Bethel, and Ader.

He returned to Johns Hopkins University in 1929 as a W. W. Spence professor of Semitic languages, a position which he still holds. A series of lectures he presented in 1931 at the University of Virginia and the Hartford Theological Seminary were compiled in Archaeology of Palestine and the Bible (Revell, 1932). The book was later reprinted in a paper-bound edition by Penguin Books under the title The Archaeology of Palestine (1949).

In his article, "Palestine in the Light of Archaeology" (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, November 1932), Dr. Albright credited John D. Rockefeller, Jr., with the gift of $2,000,000, which made possible the existence of the Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. After civil government was established in Palestine in 1920, Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish groups vied with one another in supporting archaeological projects in the Holy Land. The Mandatory Power set up a Committee on Mediterranean Antiquities and Albright was named chairman. He resumed his post as director of the American School of Oriental Research in 1933, and later was made vice-president of the school. In 1936 he returned to the United States.

In 1937 Albright's analysis of the Nash Papyrus was published in the Journal of Biblical Literature (LVI, No. 3). This is a small fragment containing the Shema and the Ten Commandments, and was bought fifty years ago from an Egyptian dealer. It is now in the Manchester Library in England. The Papyrus was dated by Albright as from some time early in the second pre-Christian century to some time toward the end of the first century A.D.

During the next few years, Albright continued his writing and lecturing in the United States and Europe. His book, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Johns Hopkins University Press), was published in 1942. He was visiting professor at the University of Chicago in 1946, and the following year, returned to the Holy Land as chief archaeologist of the Sinai Expedition. In 1950 he headed the Beihan (South Arabia) Expedition. Since 1949 Professor Albright has been vice-president of the American Foundation for the Study of Man.

As an authority on Biblical languages, Professor Albright's opinion was sought when some scrolls sealed in clay jars were discovered by a Bedouin goat-herd in 1947 in a cave near the Dead Sea. In his article, "The Dead Sea Scrolls" (American Scholar, Winter 1952-53), he described these scrolls of leather and parchment which included the manuscripts of the Book of Isaiah and Habakkuk as well as original books from the Essene sect which rivaled the Pharisees and Sadducees in their influence on early Christianity. Arguing from the paleographical evidence, Albright dated the Isaiah scroll at about 100 B.C. (this was later confirmed by radiocarbon dating).

The finding of these scrolls and the controversy among scholars and archaeologists which has raged since the discovery was announced has been described by Edmund Wilson in his article, "The Dead Sea Scrolls" in the New Yorker (May 14, 1955), who quoted Dr. Albright as saying that he believes them to be the oldest known Biblical writings in the Hebrew language. Many theologians do not accept this opinion.

The Dead Sea scrolls were among the 1,500 items assembled by the American Fund for Israel Institutions from museums and private collections all over the world for the Smithsonian Institution exhibition (January 10 to 27, 1954). At a preview, Dr. Albright told reporters that newly discovered treasures had added "fresh conflict to the old controversy of science versus religion" (New York Times, December 22, 1953). The ancient scrolls will be permanently housed in Israel in a museum to be called the Shrine of the Book.

Writing on "The Judeo-Christian View of Man" in Man's Right To Knowledge (Columbia University Press, 1954), Dr. Albright traced the history of the Hebrew and Christian religions and concluded: "During several decades of war against the Nazi, Shinto and Communist worship of the state, Jews and Christians have staunchly defended human freedom. The Judeo-Christian tradition of the intrinsic worth of the individual remains the most solid bulwark of the rights of man."

An outstanding defender of minority groups, Dr. Albright's life work in archaeology has been guided by his desire to overcome prejudices. Professor Albright wrote: "Any nation which has organized national or religious minorities within its territory possesses assets of extraordinary value. As a rule, members of such minorities find life harder than do members of the majority. . . .  Under such difficult conditions they react according to Toynbee's principle of 'the stimulus of penalization.' Energetic minorities form an invaluable source of stimulation for the majority, which tends to stagnate unless it receives such stimulation from the outside. . . . As soon as minorities become targets for open persecution and repression, democracy is imperiled. The continued presence and relative prosperity of minorities is thus the best possible test of the viability of a democracy" (American Spiritual Autobiographies).

Dr. Albright has received honorary doctorates from the universities of Utrecht (The

Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact transcribe@si.edu.