Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Samuel Sandmel Dead at 68

November 6, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Samuel Sandmel, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Bible and Hellenistic Literature at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, died in Jewish Hospital here last night after a long illness. He was 68 years old. A funeral service will be held tomorrow at the college.

Sandmel was one of the world’s foremost authorities on Early Christianity and the New Testament, especially in their relation to Judaism, and was widely acclaimed as a leader in interfaith relations.

Among the many honors bestowed upon him was one that was to have been presented in absentia tonight by the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews and will instead be given posthumously tonight at a dinner in the Royal York Hotel in Toronto to be attended by 1200 guests. The award is the 1979 Nicholas and Hedy Munk Brotherhood Award, given to “a person of international repute who has stimulated and encouraged harmonious understanding between Jews and non-Jews.”

Sandmel was the author of 17 scholarly works and of one novel, “Alone Atop the Mountain.” When he served as head of a group of 29 scholars who produced “The New English Bible with the Apocrypha: Oxford Study Edition,” published in 1976 by Oxford University Press, it marked the first time a Jewish scholar had been editor of the New English Bible.

Sandmel had been a member of the Hebrew Union College faculty for 26 years. Upon retirement from the college on Jan. 31 of this year, he accepted a three-year appointment as Helen A. Regenstein Professor of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Sandmel attended public schools in St. Louis and gained his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri. He enrolled in the rabbinic program at Hebrew Union College and was ordained in 1937. From 1946 to 1949, while pursuing studies for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in New Testament Studies at Yale University, he served as Yale’s Hillel director. After receiving the Ph.D. degree in 1949, he joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University, where he taught Jewish literature and thought until 1952 when he accepted appointment at Hebrew Union. During World War 11 he was a Navy chaplain, serving with the 2nd Marine Division in the South Pacific.

There will be no Bulletin dated Nov. 12 due to Veteran’s Day, a postal holiday.

Recommended from JTA