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Blum-Iwry Professorship in Near Eastern Studies

Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Established in 2002 with a commitment made in 1999 by the family of Alvin and Mildred Goldstein Blum in their honor and in honor of their friends Samuel and Nina Rochman Iwry

IwrySamuelSAMUEL IWRY (pictured), A&S 1951 (PhD), who earned his degree in Near Eastern Studies and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa on the award of his doctorate, was known for his wide-ranging scholarly endeavors in ancient Near Eastern studies, Biblical archaeology, the history of the Hebrew language, Jewish civilization, and modern Hebrew literature. At Hopkins, Dr. Iwry was a member of the team, led by renowned professor William Foxwell Albright, that first authenticated the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Dr. Iwry served on the Hopkins faculty from 1951 to 1991, retiring as a full professor. He also served as distinguished professor of literature and as dean at the Baltimore Hebrew University and was an exchange professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The recipient of many honors and awards–including a Fulbright Scholarship and the National New American of the Year Award–Dr. Iwry was known as a spellbinding lecturer and energetic leader in Jewish communities worldwide. Dr. Iwry died in 2004 at the age of 93, and his wife, NINA ROCHMAN IWRY, died in 2011.

BlumAlvinMildredALVIN BLUM, A&S 1930; his wife, MILDRED G. BLUM, Bus 1969 (MLA); and the Blum family created this professorship, as well as an endowment in the Department of Near Eastern Studies to support a lectureship and graduate fellowships, in honor of Dr. Iwry’s distinguished career and of their friendship with the Iwrys. Before his retirement, Alvin Blum served as president of Blum’s, a Baltimore department store founded in 1908 by his father and known to Baltimoreans as “the store with a heart.” After the retail business was sold, Alvin and his brother, Irving, Bus 1934, who earned his economics degree through Hopkins’ Courses in Business Economics, developed Blum’s Inc. into an investment and finance business. Mr. Blum died in 2004.

Held by Theodore J. Lewis

LewisTheodoreTHEODORE J. LEWIS, the first Blum-Iwry Professor in Near Eastern Studies, joined Hopkins in 2002 and researches religions of ancient Israel and Syria. In addition to the texts of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), he works with alphabetic cuneiform texts from the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit, the most important archival material for understanding the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age religions of Syria and Israel, surpassing even the more famous Dead Sea Scrolls. He is general editor of the book series Writings from the Ancient World (co-published by the Society of Biblical Literature and E. J. Brill) and past editor of the journal Near Eastern Archaeology (for the American School of Oriental Research). He is the author of Cults of the Dead in Ancient Israel and Ugarit, and co-author of Ugaritic Narrative Poetry. He is currently writing The Religion of Ancient Israel for the Anchor Bible Reference Library series.