Glueck, Nelson

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GLUECK, NELSON (1900–1971), U.S. archaeologist and president of *Hebrew Union College. Glueck, who was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, received his rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College there in 1923. Continuing his studies in Germany, Glueck received his Ph.D. at Jena in 1927. In 1928–29 he studied at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. Glueck began teaching Bible at Hebrew Union College in 1929, and while still a member of the faculty resumed his connection with the American School of Oriental Research. He was director of the Jerusalem School during 1932–33, 1936–40, and 1942–47, and field director of the Baghdad School in 1942–47. During World War ii Glueck worked with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, then was director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, to which he had been appointed in 1941.

A conspicuous figure among American archaeologists, Glueck undertook systematic excavations throughout Transjordan. In 1937 he uncovered the Nabatean Temple at Jebel el-Tannur, and in 1938 he began excavating the Iron Age site of Tell-el-Kheleifeh (Ezion-Geber), near Akaba. From 1952 onward he surveyed ancient sites in the Negev.

In 1947 Glueck was elected president of Hebrew Union College. The college, isolated geographically from the main centers of American Jewish life, also tended to be overshadowed by the burgeoning activities of its patron, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Avoiding philosophical controversy, Glueck successfully fought to maintain the independence of the college, and at the same time transformed its structure. In 1949 he succeeded Stephen Wise as president of the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and the amalgamation of the two schools followed. Branches of the combined institution were opened in Los Angeles and Jerusalem largely due to Glueck's enthusiasm. The buildings in Cincinnati were greatly enlarged and the granting of fellowships for postgraduate studies, particularly to Christian students of Judaica, was increased considerably.

In addition to contributions to learned journals, Glueck has published Das Wort Ḥesed im alttestamentlichen Sprachgebrauche (1927); Explorations in Eastern Palestine (4 vols., 1934–51); The Other Side of the Jordan (1940); The River Jordan (1946); Rivers in the Desert (1959); and Deities and Dolphins: The Story of the Nabateans (1966). On his 70th birthday, the festschrift Near Eastern Archeology in the Twentieth Century was published in his honor.


D. Lazar, Rashim be-Yisrael, 1 (1953), 322–6; Current Biography, 30 (July 1969), 28–30; Time (Dec. 13, 1963).