Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Remembering Michael Patrick O'Connor

dinner with Michael

I was able to find another photo, this one of a lovely dinner with Michael in the mid 1990s. From left to right, it's Michael, my wife Catherine, and me.

My friend Prof. Steve Ryan, who teaches across the street from Michael at the Dominican House of Studies has posted some audio of one of Michael's guest lectures to his students. You can access the file either on (click here) or on iTunes (click here).

Jim Eisenbraun has written a moving one-page memoir of Michael (click here) with a great of photo of Michael, Bruce Waltke, and Jim himself. Here is a brief snipit: I will always remember his razor-sharp mind; his dry wit; his ability to cut to the heart of the matter in short order; a loud guffaw when something struck him as funny; his astounding grasp of a wide range of subjects (there seemed to be little that he had not read); and the personal interest he took in all who took the time to get to know him. He was a remarkable gentleman-scholar-friend.

Today, today I received the following biographical notes on Michael. I believe that Joseph Jensen at CUA forwarded them to all CBA members, so I don't think anyone will mind if I post them in full here. Michael's death, of course, is a huge loss to the CBA, besides of course the huge personal loss to all of us:

Professor Michael Patrick O’Connor was Ordinary Professor of Semitic Languages and Chairman of the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at The Catholic University of America. He joined the faculty in the Fall of 1997, and was appointed Ordinary Professor in 2002.

Professor O’Connor was a member of numerous learned societies, including the American Oriental Society, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the Society of Biblical Literature. He was elected to membership in the prestigious Biblical Colloquium in October 1994. He was a member of the Steering Committee, Society of Biblical Literature Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew Group since 1994.

Professor O’Connor was the author of many scholarly studies and books including his Hebrew Verse Structure (1980), Backgrounds for the Bible, with David Noel Freedman (1987), and An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, with Bruce K. Waltke (1990). He also leaves behind an almost complete commentary on the book of Esther. He had a special interest in the linguistics of Biblical Hebrew and in Hebrew poetry. He had considerable experience as an editor for important publishers and publications in Biblical studies, among them Eisenbrauns, the University of Michigan Press, and the Anchor Bible.

Prior to coming to CUA, Michael O’Connor was Associate Professor of Hebrew and Hebrew Bible at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (1995-1997), and Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible, Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota (1992-1995).

Michael O’Connor earned a Ph.D. in ancient Near Eastern languages from the University of Michigan in 1978. He received an A.M. degree in ancient Near Eastern studies from the University of Michigan (1974), an M.A. degree in writing from the University of British Columbia (1972), and an A.B. degree in English from the University of Notre Dame (1970). Michael O’Connor also attended the Calasanctius Preparatory School, a school for gifted boys in Buffalo, New York.

Michael O’Connor was the son of Anna Maria Crosta O’Connor and the late John David O’Connor, Sr. He has a brother and a sister, John David O’Connor, Jr. and Kathy O’Connor Mullen, and a brother-in-law Mark Mullen, all of Orchard Park, near Buffalo, New York.

Michael O’Connor made great contributions to the Semitics department and to the School of Arts and Sciences more generally, and he played an important role in other university programs, especially Biblical Studies and Early Christian Studies. He was devoted to his students and to teaching. He had a constant care for all his colleagues. Michael O’Connor was a poet, with a deep interest in literature and books of all kinds. He very much enjoyed the cultural scene in Washington, D.C. He loved movies, plays, and concerts. His inimitable sense of humor and his hearty laugh, among other endearing personal traits, are especially memorable.


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