Vermes, Geza

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VERMES, GEZA (1924– ), leading scholar in the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Judaism during the Second Temple Period, and Jesus. Vermes led a unique and varied career. Born in Mako in Hungary to an assimilated Jewish family, Vermes' primary and secondary studies were undertaken at Gyula, with his higher education beginning at Budapest in 1945. Vermes lost his parents in the Holocaust when they were sent to extermination camps in Poland. Studying theology at St. Albert, Louvain (Belgium) between 1947 and 1952 (receiving his D.Theol. in 1953 on the Dead Sea Scrolls), Vermes continued with his studies at the Institut Orientaliste at the Université Catholique in Louvain, between 1950 and 1952, where he obtained a License in Oriental History and the Philology with distinction. On leaving Roman Catholicism and the priesthood in 1957, Vermes went on to obtain an M.A. (1965) and a D.Litt. (1988) from Oxford University. Vermes held many different academic positions and fellowships over the years, notably serving as Senior Lecturer in Divinity at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1964–65) and at the University of Oxford as reader in Jewish Studies (1965–89); professor of Jewish Studies (1989–91), and professor emeritus of Jewish Studies (1991– ). He was also the recipient of numerous honors and distinctions (including Fellowships of the British Academy (1985) and the European Academy (2001)) and served as chair and president on many academic boards and research societies. He was the incumbent editor of the Journal of Jewish Studies from 1971. Vermes was a very meticulous researcher and prolific writer with a great many research articles and books to his credit, among them: The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (1962, rev. ed. 1995; see now, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 1997), Jesus the Jew: A Historian's Reading of the Gospels (1973, rev. ed. 1994), and Jesus and the World of Judaism (1984). He also edited and revised Emile Schürer's classic TheHistory of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (1973–87, 3 vols., together with F. Millar, M. Black, and M. Goodman) as well as editing numerous volumes of essays. He also wrote The Changing Faces of Jesus (2001), The Passion (2005), and Who's Who in the Age of Jesus (2005).


P.S. Alexander, Blackwell's Companion to Jewish Civilization (1988); P. Davies and R. White (eds.), A Tribute to Geza Vermes: Essays on Jewish and Christian Literature and History (1990); P. Alexander and M. Goodman (eds.), Journal of Jewish Studies: Special Issue to Commemorate the Twenty-Fifth Year of Geza Vermes as Editor (1995); G. Vermes, Providential Accidents: An Autobiography (1998).

[Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]