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Charles Cutler° Torrey

TORREY, CHARLES CUTLER° (1863–1956), U.S. Bible scholar and Semitist. Born in East Hardwick, Vermont, Torrey taught Latin at Bowdoin College (1885–86), and Semitics, Bible, and Hebraica at Andover Theological Seminary (1892–1900) and at Yale University (1900–34). He was one of the founders of the American School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. Subsequent archaeological finds and advances in Semitic linguistics and in lower and higher biblical criticism have been damaging to many of Torrey's contributions in the estimation of present-day scholarship. He developed an independent exegesis of the period of Ezra and Nehemiah in The Composition and Historical Value of Ezra-Nehemiah (1896), Ezra Studies (1910; 1970), and Chronicler's History of Israel (1954). Following E. Koenig's commentary on Isaiah, he argued in Second Isaiah (1928) for the unity of Isaiah 40–66, and assigned Isaiah 34–35 as the introduction to this corpus. In his articles on Ezekiel in the Journal of Biblical Literature and in Pseudo-Ezekiel and the Original Prophecy (1930; 19704), he expounded his theory regarding the nature and composition of the Book of Ezekiel. His thesis was that the bulk of the prophecy contained in the canonical Book of Ezekiel was pseudepigraphic, composed around 230 B.C.E. but purporting to date from the period of Manasseh (692–639 B.C.E.), and later in 200 B.C.E. edited so as to appear to be an exilic work. It provoked, however, a bitter attack by S. Spiegel, who advocated caution in the critical analyses and wanton emendations of Ezekiel.

His often cited theory that the Synoptic Gospels, John, and Revelations, as they have been handed down are for the most part straightforward translations of Aramaic originals, was developed in a number of publications including Translations Made from the Original Aramaic Gospels (1912), Four Gospels: A New Translation (1934), Our Translated Gospels (1936), Documents of the Primitive Church (1941), and the posthumous Apocalypse of John (1958). How deeply the koranic tradition is steeped in the Hebraic culture is documented in Jewish Foundation of Islam (1933; 1967). His other Islamic studies are Mohammedan Conquest of Egypt and North Africa (1901) by Ibn Abd al-Ḥakām, edited with notes and selections of the writings of Al-Buḥāa (1948; 1969). In the area of numismatics he investigated the Aramaic graffiti on coins buried in 318 B.C.E. and belonging to Jews of Egypt (1937), and he wrote on the rare coinage of the Khans of Khokand and Bukhārā Gold Coins of Kokhand and Bukhārā (1950). His other publications include a treatise on the composition of Acts The Composition and Date of Acts (1926); and an introduction to the apocryphal literature (Apocryphal Literature; A Brief Introduction, 1945).


M. Greenberg, in: C.C. Torrey, Pseudo-Ezekiel and the Original Prophecy (1970), xi–xxxv (prolegomenon); W.F. Stinespring, in: idem, Ezra Studies (1970), xi–xxviii (prolegomenon); F. Rosenthal, in: idem, Jewish Foundation of Islam (1967), v–xxiii (introd.).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.