TIGAY, JEFFREY H(OWARD) (1941– ), U.S. Bible and ancient Middle East scholar. Born in Detroit, educated at Columbia University (B.A. 1963), the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (M.H.L., rabbinical ordination 1966), and Yale (Ph.D. 1971), Tigay taught from 1971 at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures and graduate chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures. He was the chairman of the Jewish Studies Program (1995–98) and a visiting professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He was a scholar in residence of the Jewish Publication Society and a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Tigay is widely recognized as a leading Bible scholar and historian. His work on the Gilgamesh epic has been described as "groundbreaking," and his critical, historically informed line-by-line commentary on Deuteronomy, probably his best-known work, is erudite and comprehensive. Tigay believes that the book was written by conservative religious elements to oppose tendencies toward assimilation promoted by the upper classes in the eighth–seventh centuries B.C.E.; his discussion considers linguistic development, literary sources, the evolution of ideas, comparative legal codes, previous commentaries, and much else. Tigay has also been recognized as an outstanding teacher.
Tigay's principal publications are The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic (1982), Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism (principal author and editor, 1985), You Shall Have No Other Gods: Israelite Religion in the Light of Hebrew Inscriptions (1986), and The JPS Torah Commentary: Deuteronomy (1996). He also co-edited Judah Goldin's Studies in Midrash and Related Literature (with Barry L. Eichler, 1988) and Tehilla le-Moshe: Biblical and Judaic Studies in Honor of Moshe Greenberg (with M. Cogan and B.L. Eichler, 1997). Tigay is the author of the commentary on Exodus in the Oxford Jewish Study Bible (2003) and has published numerous scholarly articles, contributions to symposia and reference works, and reviews. Among his many essays is a 1999 debunking of the recent craze for *Bible Codes as a modern form of bibliomancy.