Tuesday, March 31, 2015

William W. Hallo (1928-2015)

I just learned (a day after the funeral) that William W. Hallo died last Friday.

I took Sumerian and Old Assyrian from Professor Hallo while at Yale. He sat in on my oral exams and was probably the kindest one there. Professor Hallo (his friends called him Bill but I always respected him too much to be on a first name basis with him) was a kind, gracious, and generous teacher. I considered (and still consider) it a great privilege to study under him, and I learned a great deal from him. He had an encyclopedic knowledge and was interested in a wide variety of things. He always encouraged me in Assyriology and it seemed to me that he wished I would have switched to that discipline. I was touched that at the end of my time at Yale, he consulted me on an Egyptological matter even though he could easily have consulted one of the more senior Egyptologists.

One of the things that most impressed me about Professor Hallo was his faith. He never talked about it explicitly but you never had any reason to question it. It was not a blind faith; he knew what the issues were and he tried to deal with them. He published a thoughtful and important article on the topic called "The Limits of Skepticism."

I feel blessed to have studied with Professor Hallo Z''L.