Prof. Angel Sáenz-Badillos
H-Judaic is greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Prof. Angel
Sáenz-Badillos (1940-2013), Director of the Real Colegio Complutense at
Harvard University and Professor of Hebrew at Departmento de Hebreo,
Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain. Prof. Sáenz-Badillos is past
president of the European Association for Jewish Studies and the author,
among many works, of *A History of the Hebrew Language* (Cambridge
University Press, 1993).
The European Association for Jewish Studies has issued the following
*Professor Angel Sáenz-Badillos (1940-2013)*
The EAJS has learned with sadness of the death of Prof. Ángel
Sáenz-Badillos, the fifth president of the Association (1994-1998).
On December 30, Prof. Ángel Sáenz-Badillos passed away in Boston (USA)
after several months of illness. His life exemplifies well the dramatic
changes experienced by the Spanish society and scholarship during the
second half of the 20th century. Born shortly after the Civil War, he
received a PhD degree in Trilingual Biblical Philology in 1972 from the
Complutense University in Madrid with a dissertation on the Greek scholars
of the Alcalá Polyglot Bible. Very soon, in 1975, he became professor of
Hebrew at the University of Granada, and with the company of other members
of his generation propelled the transformation of Jewish studies in Spain
through a solid philological method, and a dynamic and modern perspective
opened to Israeli, European and US scholarship. In 1988 he became Full
Professor at the Complutense University.
He transmitted enthusiasm and elegance to colleagues, in Spain and abroad,
and to students. He was a full-fledged researcher, and is to be remembered
as the Hebrew leading scholar of his generation that brought the attention
both of colleagues and the public in general to the rich legacy of
Andalusian Jewish culture, including linguistic and philological
scholarship and poetical creativity. He was responsible for the critical
edition of some of the most representative pieces of this culture, starting
with its foundational stones, Menahem’s *Mahberet* and Dunash’s *Teshuvot*.
It was soon followed by his bilingual editions (Hebrew-Spanish) of some of
the leading Andalusian Hebrew poets, such as Shmuel ha-Nagid and Yehudah
ha-Levi, among others. His taste for poetry did not prevent him of other
more philological tasks. And thus his reputation grew as a synthesizer with
the publication of his *History of the Hebrew Language* (Spanish 1988;
English 1993). Many students benefitted from his scholarship as he was
advisor to over 25 doctoral dissertations.
As Head of the Organizing Committee and President of the EAJS, he was
instrumental in the success of the 1998 Toledo European Congress, “At the
Turn of the 20th Century.” In Spain, he fostered the creation of the
Spanish Association of (Hebrew and) Jewish Studies. He was very conscious
of the importance of the European horizon provided by the Association for
the promotion of scholarship among younger scholars.
In 2001, and until his retirement in 2012, he was appointed principal of
the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard, turning to new horizons, both
scholarly and vital. Thus, he split his time promoting Spanish scholarship
in the US. In 2006 he established the NGO “Casas de la Esperanza” providing
housing for needy people in Nicaragua. Still, he continued to be bound to
genuine scholarship. The last result of his scholarly work is an edition
(together with L. Girón-Negrón, J. Pueyo and A. Enrique-Arias) of the
15th-century Arragel’s Bible (aka Alba Bible) whose first volume is scheduled to be
published by Brill this year.
He is survived by his lifelong partner, Judit, with whom he shared his life
and his scholarly endeavors, their two sons and three grandsons.
May he now rest in peace, his research and his spirit will continue to