Theology professor dies at 62
Observer Staff Report | Thursday, January 10, 2019
Gary N. Knoppers, the John A. O’Brien professor of theology, died at 62 from pancreatic cancer on Dec. 22, the University announced in a news release Thursday.
Knoppers was a scholar of biblical studies and researched ancient Hebrew and Near Eastern history and law, the release said.
“[Knoppers was] esteemed as a scholar and teacher,” theology department chair Timothy Matovina said in the release. “But I think he will be missed most for his gentle and congenial humanity that helped make our department and the wider University a community of learning, compassion, and faith.“
Knoppers studied philosophy as an undergraduate at Calvin College. He later earned his master of divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and his master’s and doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University.
Knoppers joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2014 after teaching at Penn State University for 25 years. He also taught at Harvard University and the Andover-Newton Theological Seminary.
“[Knoppers] was internationally recognized as a leading figure in the interpretation of the books of Kings and Chronicles in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. He had a similar reputation for the study of the origins of the Samaritan people and their religion,” theology professor Gary A. Anderson said in the release. “He also was revered as a teacher — he was very learned and compassionate toward his students. I can’t imagine someone not liking Gary.”
In 2014, Knoppers was awarded the R.B.Y. Scott Award for Outstanding Book in Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies for “Jews and Samaritans: The Origins and History of Their Early Relations,” the release said. He also won the R.B.Y. Scott Award for Outstanding Book in Old Testament Studies for his work for the Anchor Yale Bible series in 2005.
Knoppers previously served as president of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies and president of the Biblical Colloquium. He also held seats on the editorial boards of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel, the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Studia Samaritana, Vetus Testamentum, the Internationaler Exegetischer Kommentar zum Alten Testament and the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research.
Knoppers is survived by his wife, Laura L. Knoppers, a Notre Dame English professor, and their two children.
A funeral was held Dec. 28 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in South Bend.
A memorial Mass will be held Jan. 25 at 4 p.m. in the Moreau Seminary chapel.
In Knoppers’ memory, donations may be made to the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem, the Notre Dame department of theology or St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mishawaka.
Condolences may be left on the Palmer Funeral Homes website.