Hanan Eshel (1958-2010) was an Israeli scholar. Received his PhD (1994) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. One of leading international specialists in the Dead Sea Scrolls, was professor in the Dept. of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. Visiting professor at the Universities of Harvard, Michigan, and Oxford. Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Enoch Seminar, he contributed to all its first five meetings, from Florence (2001) to Naples (2009).
Obituary by Gabriele Boccaccini (8 April 2010)
It is with great sorrow, that I am writing about the death of our dear friend and colleague, and co-Director of the Enoch Seminar, Hanan Eshel.
Our warmest thoughts are with his wife, Esti, his family and friends.
It is a devastating loss for the entire scholarly community. It seems hard today to imagine any edited volumes, research projects, or international conferences, directly or indirectly related to the Dead Sea Scrolls, without his presence and contribution.
Hanan was the driving force of the Enoch Seminar (an energetic and passionate co-Director of the project). He attended all its biennial sessions, contributing decisively to the success of the project, not only through his scholarly contribution but also fostering a positive atmosphere of collaboration and productive exchange.
His scholarly legacy is a precious gift to all of us, but here I would rather like to remember Hanan the man and the friend. His scholarly reputation was the result of hard work, substantial achievements, but primarily of the immense love and passion he had for what he studied. Hanan’s enthusiasm and energy were irresistible, almost legendary, and highly contagious, an enthusiasm and optimism that he maintained to the last days, even facing his illness.
Hanan was not only interested in work, he was interested in people. I know it well by experience, during all the time we spent together in Italy, Israel, and Ann Arbor. On more than one occasion I received from him not only support as a colleague, but help and encouragement as a friend. Many times, both publicly and privately, we talked about how the study of Second Temple Judaism is essential not only for the self-understanding of Jews and Christians but also for their relationships today. We both shared the same dream of reconciliation and mutual understanding and were aware of the responsibility that as scholars we have to find common ground in the study of this crucial period of Christian and Rabbinic origins.
I was happy he could share once more the Italian experience of the Enoch Seminar in Naples and had time for a trip to Capri with Esti, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. When he left at the end of the conference, he hugged me with his strong arms and whispered: “I’m dying, Gabriele, I don’t know if I will make it for another Enoch Seminar but I will try as hard as I can.” We silently struggled not to cry, as I am struggling now that I am writing these notes… I miss you, Hanan. I miss you so much.