Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Tom Finley on Prof. Segert

My remembrance of Stanislav Segert has now appeared, slightly revised, on the SBL website. Tom Finley, also a former student of Segert, sent me this e-mail in response, which is published here with his permission:

I also was one of Dr. Segert's students. He was the second man on my doctoral committee, and I got the PhD in 1979 (writing on Western Akkadian). I appreciate very much the memorial statements you made about him. I also remember him as a gentleman scholar who had an encyclopedic mind for the northwest Semitic languages. He would give us his Ugaritic materials in pre-publication form and have us critique them for English style. One had to get used to his accent at first but after awhile it became easier to understand him most of the time. He enjoyed his students very much and was always ready to lavish attention on them. At times he had us over to his house. Each quarter I was at UCLA he had a Hebrew Bible course where each of us would contribute to whatever form of the text we could handle: the Syriac, the Targums, the Greek, the Latin. Dr. Segert could handle it all. If my memory serves me correctly, I think he mentioned that he had two doctorates, one in Semitics but the other in classics. He was quite comfortable with Greek and Latin. I remember him saying once that English was his third language, behind Czech and German. He also told us that the communists fired him from the university in Prague because he taught that Jesus was a real person, and that violated the communist dogma. I guess I have to say that studying under Dr. Segert was one of the great experiences of my life. Because of my own life circumstances my interests have steered away from Akkadian, my main area of study at UCLA, to Hebrew and Aramaic, the very interests that Dr. Segert was most versed in. Thank you for your very appropriate comments. He is indeed irreplaceable and will be sorely missed.

Tom Finley
Chair, Dept. of Old Testament & Semitics
Talbot School of Theology/Biola University

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