Père Pierre Benoit, one of the world’s most distinguished Biblical scholars and an expert on the archaeology of Jerusalem, died in Jerusalem on April 23 at the age of 81, following a long bout with cancer.
For more than half a century, he lived and taught at the École Biblique et Archéologique Française in the city he loved and knew so well.
Père Benoit was an authority not only on Jerusalem and its archaeology, but also on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He served as chairman of the international publication committee responsible for publishing most of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He also wrote and published widely on theology.
Tall and devastatingly handsome, he had a delightful sense of humor and an almost impish grin. Despite the seriousness of his life’s work, there was a lightheartedness about him that made one immediately comfortable in his presence. Of course, his heavy French accent only added to his charm. I cannot believe he was unaware of the impression he made.
More than almost anyone I have known, he combined an unshakable and imperturbable faith with a skeptical, open-minded scientific interest in Biblical history. One realm seemed never to threaten the other.