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Maccoby, Hyam 1924-2004

MACCOBY, Hyam 1924-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born March 20, 1924, in Sunderland, England; died May 2, 2004, in Leeds, England. Educator, librarian, and author. Maccoby was a controversial Jewish scholar who wrote provocative books comparing and contrasting the origins of Christianity and Judaism with current interpretations. The son of a mathematician who educated his son in ancient languages such as Aramaic and biblical Hebrew, Maccoby served in the Royal Signals during World War II before reading classics and English at Balliol College, Oxford, where he earned a B.A. in 1951 and an M.A. in 1952. After graduating, he taught at various schools until 1975, when he settled down at Leo Baeck College in London as a lecturer and librarian; he also lectured at Imperial College until 1978. Beginning in 1998, he was a visiting—and then research—professor at the Center for Jewish Studies at Leeds University. Maccoby began what would become a prolific career in publishing in the 1980s, writing books on Jewish and Christian history and the relationship between these two religions. Among other points, Maccoby held that Jesus taught nothing that was outside the Jewish tradition, and that it was Paul who really founded Christianity, by deriving interpretations that built upon old myths and blamed the Jews for the crucifixion; he also held that, were Jesus here today in the flesh, He would be appalled by the ceremony of communion that depicts wine and crackers as His flesh and blood. On the other hand, Maccoby also shocked Jewish scholars by implying that the writings of the Torah were not divinely authored. Among his many scholarly books are The Sacred Executioner: Human Sacrifice and the Legacy of Guilt (1982), Paul and Hellenism (1991), Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil (1992), The Philosophy of the Talmud (2002), Jesus the Pharisee (2003), and Anti-Semitism and Modernity (2004). He also wrote a play, The Disputation, which was televised by the British Broadcasting Corp. in 1996 and was also performed on the London stage.



Guardian (London, England), July 31, 2004, p. 23.

Independent (London, England), May 3, 2004, p. 29.

Times (London, England), May 3, 2004, p. 23.

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