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Remembering Dr. William Holladay
Samuel Edgar Lowry Professor of Old Testament, Emeritus

Dear Friends of Andover Newton,

We have received the news that William L. (Bill) Holladay, the Samuel Edgar Lowry Professor of Old Testament, Emeritus at Andover Newton, died over the weekend. He will be remembered with great appreciation and affection by Andover Newton faculty, alumni/ae, and others who have been part of the wider Andover Newton community.

Former Professor Mary Luti offered this tribute:

Bill Holladay was a giant -- a renowned scholar of the Old Testament, a challenging teacher, a generous and funny friend, a loyal colleague, a man of spirit and deeply committed faith. His scholarship was prodigious: Bill was rarely not writing, both for the academy and the church. He could be daunting in trying to get the best from his students, but his merciful gestures were as legendary as his toughness. He had a heart, and it was a big one. Bill's office desk sat under a huge portrait of his prophet, Jeremiah. Sometimes when you were sitting there talking with him, you couldn't tell which was which.


Professor Greg Mobley added:

William Holladay was one of the premier Old Testament scholars of his generation, who authored three works on the bookshelf of every scholar in the English speaking world, his two volumes on Jeremiah and his Hebrew lexicon. Bill was a dynamic teacher and music lover who walked around with a hungry look in his eyes, foraging for ideas and conversation. Bill was full of tough love for students and indulgent love for family members.


The funeral will be held at 3 p.m. this Wednesday (May 11, 2016) at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, MA. Information about a memorial service will be available at a later date.

If ever someone deserved the honored adage, "Well done, thy good and faithful servant," it is this great soul. 

Martin (Copenhaver)
May 9, 2016


William Lee Holladay, 1926-2016

William Lee Holladay, 89, of Amherst, Massachusetts, died unexpectedly from an aneurysm on May 6, 2016, with his loving wife Patricia Appelbaum at his side. Bill was born on June 23, 1926, in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in California. His parents were William Lee Holladay and Louise (Cook) Holladay.

Bill graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1948 after serving as a chaplain’s assistant in the Army. He received a BD from the Pacific School of Religion in 1951 and a ThD from the University of Leyden (Netherlands) in 1958. From mid-1951 until 1955 he was a pastor in rural California. After receiving the doctorate, he served as a chaplain at the University of Colorado at Boulder and then taught at Elmhurst College (Illinois).

From 1963 until 1970, he taught at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut (Lebanon), an experience that formed him deeply. From 1970 until his retirement in 1997, Bill was Lowry Professor of Old Testament at Andover Newton Theological School. He continued to write and teach after retirement.

As a scholar, Bill was best known for his works on the prophets and the psalms. Trained in historical, textual, and linguistic studies, he later added the analysis of poetic structures to his repertoire. His most significant works include A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of The Old Testament (1971), which has been continuously in print in several languages; Jeremiah 1 (1986) and Jeremiah 2 (1989), a major commentary in the Hermeneia series; and The Psalms through Three Thousand Years (1993). He was one of the translators of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (1989). Bill also wrote effectively for nonprofessionals in Jeremiah: A Fresh Reading (1990), Long Ago God Spoke (1995), and other works. He contributed articles to many journals, including the Journal of Bible and Religion, the Journal of Biblical Literature, Vetus Testamentum, and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. He was an editor for Vetus Testamentum and for the Catholic Biblical Quarterly.

Alongside his meticulous scholarship, Bill possessed an ebullient optimism and a confidence that things would always work out all right. He loved adventure; he traveled widely in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa and also visited Japan. His experience in Lebanon gave him a deep appreciation for Arab and Muslim cultures and for non-European Christianities. He was a gifted amateur pianist and singer. His spiritual life was rich and complex, formed by tradition but always able to accommodate new circumstances, intellectually deep yet alert to pastoral concerns. He was an important teacher for ministers and academics around the world.

Bill is survived by his wife and by their daughter Margaret Holladay, as well as by his former wife, Jean Grosbach, and their three sons, David, Martin, and Peter Holladay. The family grew to include Clark MacKenzie. Bill is also survived by his brother Richard Holladay, his sister Nancy (Holladay) Weger, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. A daughter, Catherine Holladay, preceded him in death. 

-- Martin Holladay and Patricia Appelbaum

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