Milgrom, Jacob

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MILGROM, JACOB (1923– ), U.S. Bible scholar. Born in New York City and educated at Brooklyn College (B.A. 1943) and the Jewish Theological Seminary (B.H.L. 1943, M.H.L. 1946, D.H.L 1953, D.D. 1973), Milgrom was a rabbi at Conservative synagogues in Orange, New Jersey (1948–51) and Richmond, Virginia (1951–65). He taught at Virginia Union University, Graduate School of Religion (1955–65); the University of California, Berkeley; Graduate Theological Union (1965–72), where he directed the Jewish Studies Program; and the ucb study center at the Hebrew University, and he was named emeritus professor of Hebrew and Bible studies. Milgrom was a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fulbright Fellow, a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies and of the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, both in Jerusalem, and a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research. In 1994 he and his wife, also an academic, moved to Jerusalem, where he began teaching at the Hebrew University and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

An outstanding Bible scholar, Milgrom is recognized as one of the leading authorities on Leviticus, as a result of his commentary on that book, his best-known work. Milgrom believes that "theology is what Leviticus is all about," and his massive commentary, according to critics, is distinguished by its comprehensiveness and thoroughness in its examination not only of the sources, authorship, meaning, and significance of the text, but of the ancient and modern commentary and scholarship on it. He has been praised, in particular, for his generosity in discussing theories and interpretations other than his own, even going so far as to cite his own students by name and arguing respectfully with them. Milgrom's interpretations have not met with universal agreement, but his commentary has established itself as the modern standard.

Milgrom's books include Studies in Levitical Terminology (1970), Cult and Conscience: The Asham and the Priestly Doctrine of Repentance (1976), Studies in Cultic Theology and Terminology (1983), The jps Torah Commentary: Numbers (1990), and Leviticus: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary (1–16, 1991; 17–22, 2000; 23–27, 2001). He also published over 200 scholarly articles.

[Drew Silver (2nd ed.)]