Dr. Cecil Roth, Authority on Jewish History, Dies of Cancer at the Age of 71

Dr. Cecil Roth, regarded as the outstanding contemporary authority on Jewish history, died here of cancer yesterday at the age of 71. At the time of his death Prof. Roth was engaged in the publication of a new Encyclopedia Judaica of which he became editor-in-chief in 1965. He said then that it would encompass “the totality of Jewish knowledge and scholarship.” The encyclopedia will be released shortly. Dr. Roth was born in London and received his Ph.D. from Oxford University, where he was a reader in Jewish studies from 1939 to 1964. His first published work was on the Florentine Republic but afterwards he concentrated on Jewish history, publishing hundreds of articles and more than 30 books, including “History of the Jews in Venice.” “History of the Marranos.” “A Short History of the Jewish People,” “Life of Benjamin Disraeli” and “Personalities and Events in Jewish History.” In 1965 he published “The Dead Sea scrolls: A New Historical Approach,” in which he challenged the assumption by other scholars that they were the work of the Essenes, a pacifist pre-Christian sect of Judaism. Dr. Roth contended that the scrolls were produced by the Sicaril Zealots, a warlike sect that led the Jewish revolt against Rome in A.D. 66. Dr. Roth lived most of his life in Britain, but after leaving Oxford he divided his time between Jerusalem and New York, where he taught at Queens College and. during the past year, at the Stern. College for Women of Yeshiva University. He once said that he considered it his greatest honor that the Nazis included him with the late Winston Churchill on a list of the first 500 persons to be arrested when they landed in Britain.

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