I learned from James McGrath’s site that Alan Segal has passed on. I had Professor Segal for a seminar when I was a student at Jewish Theological Seminary. It was on the history of interpretation of the akedah—the binding of Isaac—and it was co-facilitated by David Carr from Union Theological Seminary. It was a rather intimidating class, since it had a number of Columbia students, at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. Actually, being in that seminar was a suitable precursor for a Ph.D. program, since it entailed being around articulate walking encyclopedias!
But, back to my topic, I enjoyed learning from Professor Segal, whether he was talking about the Bible, or his experience with pop culture. If I recall correctly, he was an adviser for the Gospel of John movie—which starred the guy who played Desmond on LOST, before he became Desmond on LOST. In the Gospel of John, Desmond played Jesus. Professor Segal talked about meeting actors and actresses in his experience with that project, plus he showed us some excerpts from the movie.
As far as his scholarly works are concerned, I’ve read huge chunks of Two Powers in Heaven. I needed to do that for my rabbinics comp, since the “two powers” concept appears in rabbinic literature. I also read pieces of Paul the Convert—I especially remember his acknowledgments, where he said that writing a book is often a community project.
I didn’t interact with Alan Segal long, nor did I know him as well as others writing about him did. But I’ll remember his humor and his interesting perspective on biblical issues.
R.I.P. Alan Segal.