• Date of Birth: December 14, 1911
  • Born City: New York
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: Ike & Rebecca Leff L.
  • Date of Death: September 11, 2005
  • Married: Helen Lillian Block, 7 June 1936 (d. 1987); Ruth Markel (d. 2004).
  • Education:

    A.B. College of the City of New York, 1930; A.M. Columbia, 1932; Certificate, U. Strasbourg, 1933; Docteur, U. of Paris, 1934; American Field Service Fellow, 1933-4; Fell., AAR, 1934-6.

  • Dissertation:

    "L’industrie du papyrus dans l’Égypte gréco-romaine (U. de Paris, 1934)  Published: (Paris: L. Rodstein, 1934).

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. Classics, Hunter Coll., 1937-8; NYU, 1938-43; translator, U.S. War Dept. 1943-4; research director division of war research, Columbia U., 1945; vis. asst. prof. 1944-7; asst. prof. Brooklyn College, 1947-53; asso. prof. 1953-59; prof. 1959-76; asso. dean of college, 1963-70; exec. officer classical studies, City University of New York, 1970-76; City University Distinguished Professor, 1973-76; Clarence W. Mendell vis. prof. classics, Yale, 1977; press. American Society of Papyrologists, 1965-9; pres., Asso. Internationale de Papyrologues 1974-9.

  • Publications:

     “New Light on the Greek House from the Zenon Papyri,” AJA 37 (1933) 397-9; “Ἡ πρώτη στέγη in Houses of Several Stories,” CW 26 (1933) 171-2; L'industrie du papyrus dans l'Égypte gréco-romain (Paris: Rodstein, 1934) REVS: AHE 1935 513 Gernet | RFIC 1937 96 Gallavotti | CPh 1937 93-94 Winter | BSAA 1936 Nᵒ 30 142 Adriani; A Hoard of Folles from Seltz (Alsace), Num. Notes & Monogr. LXXIX (New York: Amer. Num. Soc., 1937). REVS:  AHS 1939 216 Piganiol;  “A Referee's Hearing on Ownership (with C.J. Kraemer) TAPA 68 (1937) 357-87; “Μερισμος ἅνακεχωρηκότων. An Aspect of the Roman Oppression in Egypt,” JEA (1937) 63-75; “Constantine's Law on longissimi temporis praescriptio” (with C.J. Kraemer) in Actes du Vᵉ Congrès international de papyrologie, Oxford 1937 (Brussels: Fond. Reine Elisabeth, 1938) 245-248; “A Divorce Agreement from Southern Palestine” (with C.J. Kraemer) TAPA 69 (1938) 117-33; “Two Papyrus Notes,” CP  33 (1938) 96-8; “On the Chronology of the Emperor Maurice,” AJP 62 (1939) 414-21; “Solon's Agrarian Legislation,” AJP 64 (1941) 144-56; “A Sidelight on Diocletian's Revival of Agriculture,” JEA 29 (1943) 71-73;  “The Meaning of συν ἡμιολίᾳ and Kindred Expressions in Loan Contracts,” TAPA 76 (1945) 126-39; “Two Petitions for Recovery,” JJP 2 (1948) 51-66; “Two Petitions for Recovery (P. Col. Inv. Nᵒˢ 61 and 62, 318 A.D.),” JJP 2 (1948) 51-66; “New Light on the Negev in Ancient Times,” PalEQ 80 (1948) 102-17; “Dio Chrysostom's Tyrant of Syria,” CP 44 (1949) 32-3; “Ad Livium XLII,29,5. Appendicule à ‘Eulaeos et Lenaeos’,” JJP 4 (1950) 265-6; Roman Civilization: Selected Readings: Volume 1: The Republic and the Augustan Age; Volume 2: The Empire  (with Meyer Reinhold), Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies, 45 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1951-55; 3d ed., 1990; paperback as: Roman Civilization. A Sourcebook, Harper Torchbooks (New York: Harper & Row, 1966)); “Οἴκησις-διοίκησις,” CE 27 (1952) 413; “On the ending of CIL I² 584,” in Studi in onore di V. Arangio-Ruiz nel XLV anno del suo insegnamento (Naples: Jovene, 1953) 305-7; “Miscellanea papyrologica,” CE 29 (1954) 288-98; “On Official Corruption in Roman Egypt. The Edict of Vergilius Capito,” PAPS 98 (1954) 153-8; “The Prefects of Egypt in A.D. 119,” AJP 76 (1955) 63-9; “On Legal Proceedings under the Idios Logos; κατήγοροι and συκοφάνται,” JJP 9-10 (1955-6) 117-25;  “Τῇ φρόντιδι τῶν οἰκείων πραγμάτων ἐχαρκεῖν,” Eos 48,1 (1956) 217-9; “An Aurelia Tetoueis Archive?,” in Studi in onore di A. Calderini e R. Paribeni, II (Milan: Ceschina, 1956) 321-3; Samothrace 1, The Ancient Literary Sources (ed. & trans.) Bollingen Series, 60:1 (New York: Published for the Bollingen Foundation by Pantheon Books, 1958); “Pro Isaeo XI, 50,” AJP 80 (1959) 162-8; “The First-Century Certificates for Dike-Corvée,” CE 34 (1959) 285-8; “A Veteran in Quest of a Home,” TAPA 90 (1959) 139-46; “Two Terminological Novelties,” AJP 81 (1960) 186-8; “On Timber and Nile Shipping,” TAPA 91 (1960) 137-41; “Leitourgia and Related Terms,” GRBS 3 (1960) 175-84; “Sur ‘Deux papyrus de la Sorbonne’,” JJP 13 (1961) 87-9;  “Leitourgia Studies,” Proceedings of the IXth International Congress of Papyrology, Oslo 19th-22nd August, 1958 (Oslo: Oslo Universitetsforl., 1961) 233-45; “Further Thoughts on the Aurelia Tetoueis Papers,” AJP 83 (1962) 185-7; “First-Century Dike-Corvée Certificates. A Postscript,” CE 37 (1962) 153-4; “An Emendation to PCol. Inv. 65,” TAPA 93 (1962) 164-5; “The Non-Scholar Members of the Alexandrian Museum,” Mnemosyne 16 (1963) 257-61; Leitourgia Papyri. Documents on Compulsory Public Service in Egypt under Roman Rule (Philadelphia: Amer. Philos. Soc., 1963) REVS: AC XXXIII 1964 543-545 Rémondon | REA LXVI 1964 464 Petit | CE XXXIX 1964 206-208 Bingen | Latomus XXIV 1965 983-985 Mertens | BO XXII 1965 28-29 Sijpesteijn | CR XV 1965 118 Turner | RBPh XLIV 1966 688-690 Tomsin | APF XVIII 1966 88-94 Zucker; “Four Cornell Papyri,” RecPap 3 (1964) 25-35; “Exemption from Liturgy in Roman Egypt,” Actes du Xᵉ Congrès international de Papyrologues, Varsovie-Cracovie, 3-9 septembre 1961, ed. J. Wolski (Warsaw: Comité des Sc. de la Culture antique Acad. polon. des Sciences, 1964) 69-79; “Leitourgia and Related Terms,” GRBS 6 (1965) 227-30; “A New Document on the Magister Rei Privatae,” JJP 15 (1965) 157-61; “Exemption of Physicians from Liturgy,” BASP 2 (1965) 87-92; “From the Papyrus Collection of New York University,” ASPap 1 (1966) 1-7; “A Note on the Recruitment of bibliophylakes enkteseon,” SO 41 (1966) 81-2; “Exemption from Liturgy in Roman Egypt,” 508-541; Atti dell'xi Congresso internazionale di Papirologia, Milano 2-8 settembre 1965 (Milan: Ist. Lombardo di Scienze e Lett., 1966) 508-41; Greek Papyri in the Collection of New York University, I: Fourth Century Documents from Karanis (Leiden: Brill, 1967). REVS: Gnomon XLI 1969 742-746 Hagedorn | Phoenix XXIII 1969 231-232 Evans | StudPap VIII 1969 70-71 Pegueroles | RBPh XLVI 1968 1431 Traversa; “Νοήματα λέγοντος,” BASP 4 (1967) 15-21 & 27-36; “La nouvelle ordonnance de Domitien sur les requisitions,” Labeo 13 (1967) 427; “Domitian's Order on Requisitioned Transport and Lodgings,” RIDA 15 (1968) 135-42; “P. Hibeh, 198 on Recapturing Fugitive Sailors,” AJP 89 (1968) 465-9; “Νοήματα λέγοντος,” BASP 5 (1968) 25-30; “Inventory of Compulsory Services in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt,” ASPap 3 (1968) 136 pp.; “Cognitio Caracallae de Gohairensis. Two Textual Restorations,” TAPA 99 (1968) 255-8; Inventory of Compulsory Services in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt (New Haven, 1968) 136 pp. REVS: Aegyptus XLVII 1967 283-284 | CE XLIV 1969 169-170 Bingen; “P. bibl. Univ. Giss. Inv. 311 Reconsidered,” CE 43 (1968) 375-8; “The Structure of BGU IV 1046,” CE 44 (1969) 121-2; “Addenda to ICS,” BASP 6 (1969) 13-16; “A Fragment of a Severan Constitution,” BASP 6 (1969) 17-19; “Νοήματα λέγοντος,” BASP 6 (1969) 20-6;  “BGU XI, 2064,” ZPE 5 (1970) 25-9; “The Limited Role of the epistrategos in Liturgic Appointments,” CE 44 (1969) 339-44; “On the Starting Date of Liturgies in Roman Egypt,” TAPA 100 (1969) 255-60; “Νοήματα λέγοντος,” BASP 7 (1970) 109-15; “Instructions for Appointing a Guardian,” BASP 7 (1970) 116-8; “The γραφη δημοσίων of Roman Egypt,” CE 45 (1970) 161-5; “On Paternal Authority in Roman Egypt,” RIDA 17 (1970) 251-8; “‘Greco-Roman Egypt,’ Fact or Fiction?,” Proceedings of the Twelfth International Congress of Papyrology, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 12-17 August 1968, ed. D.H. Samuel (Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1970) 3-14; “Notes on Two Documents from Oxyrhynchus,” APF 21 (1971) 83-9; Greek Historical Documents: The Fifth Century B.C. (Toronto: Hakkert, 1971); “Νοήματα λέγοντος,” BASP 8 (1971) 15-24; “A Centurion's Will Linking Two of the Karanis Fourth-Century Archives,” BASP 8 (1971) 69; “Νοήματα λέγοντος,” BASP 9 (1972) 23-36; “Un nouveau texte sur la juridiction du préfet d'Égypte,” RD 50 (1972) 5-12;  “Νοήματα λέγοντος,” BASP 9 (1972) 59-69; “The Text of SB VI,9629 Reconsidered,” CE 48 (1973) 134-9; “ICS. Revisions,” BASP 10 (1973) 85-91; “Un nouveau texte sur la juridiction du préfet d'Égypte,” RD 51 (1973) 5-7; Papyrus in Classical Antiquity (Oxford: Clarendon Pr., 1974). REVS: AC XLIV 1975 757 Lenaerts | CE XLIX 1974 404-405 Nachtergael | LEC XLIII 1975 445 Derouau ; AntJ LVI 1976 92-93 Pattie ; JHS XCVI 1976 265 Bowman ; BASP XIII 1976 135-136 Oates ; BO XXXIII 1976 29-30 Leclercq ; RPh LI 1977 107 Irigoin ; CR XXVII 1977 86-87 Nicoll ; Hermathena CXXII 1977 75 Parke ; REA LXXVII 1975 315 Boyaval ; JCS XXVI 1978 109-111 Yaginuma ; CPh LXXIII 1978 166-168 Bagnall; Greek Hostorical Documents: The Roman Principate, 27 B.C.-285 A.D. (Toronto: Hakkert, 1974); “A Centurion's Will Linking Two of the Fourth-Century Karanis Archives,” Akten des XIII. Internationalen Papyrologenkongresses, Marburg/Lahn, 2. bis 6. August 1971, ed. E. Kiessling & H.A. Rupprecht (Munich: Beck, 1974) 225-33; “The Recipients of the Oxyrhynchus Siteresion,” CE 49, no. 97 (1974) 158-162; “Notationes legentis,” BASP 11 (1974) 44-59; “A Petition of A.D. 212,” BASP 12 (1975) 159-64; “Emperor or Prefect?,” in Le monde grec. Pensée, littérature, histoire, documents. Hommages à Claire Préaux, ed. J. Bingen, G. Cambier, & G. Nachtergael (Brussels: Ed. de l'Univ., 1975) 760-5; “P. Oxy. 2820. Whose Preparations?,” GRBS 16 (1975) 295-303; “Addenda and Corrigenda to the Inventory of Compulsory Services (ICS),” BASP 12 (1975) 9-12; “The Severan Edict of P. Mich. IX 529,” CE 50 (1975) 202-6; “Notationes legentis,” BASP 13 (1976) 5-14, 157-173; “The Michigan-Berlin Apokrima,” CE 51, no. 102 (1976) 320-30; “A Ban on False Prophets: P. Coll. Youtie 30,” CE 52 no. 103 (1977) 143-6; “Notationes legentis,” BASP 14 (1977) 149-60; “Three Texts Related to the Archive of Aurelius Isidorus, II,” in Collectanea Papyrologica. Texts Published in Honour of H.C. Youtie, II, ed. A.E. Hanson (Bonn: Habelt, 1976) 513-26;The Interpretation of Dreams and Portents (Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1976). REVS: CW LXX 1977 467-468 Knox | EMC XXI 1977 99 Gerber | G&R XXIV 1977 211 Walcot | Latomus XXXVII 1978 540-542 Brenk | CR XXVIII 1978 386 Borthwick | Labeo XXV 1979 348 Lucrezi | JRS LXX 1980 186-191 North | Gnomon LII 1980 49-51 del Corno; Columbia Papyri VII: Fourth Century Documents from Karanis (with Roger S. Bagnall) (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979); The Compulsory Public Services of Roman Egypt (Florence: Edizioni Gonnelli, 1982); Life in Egypt under Roman Rule (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983 trans. Pierre Chuvin La mémoire des sables: La vie en Egypte sous la domination romaine (Paris: Armand Colin, 1988)The Ides of March (Sanibel, FL: S. Stevens, 1984);  Papyrology (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge U.P., 1985; Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt: Case Studies in the Social History of the Hellenistic World (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986); The Documents from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters (with Yigael Yadin, Jonas C. Greenfield, Hevrah la-hakirat Erets-Yisra’el ve-‘altikoteha (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Shrine of the Book, 1989); Papyrus in Classical Antiquity. A Supplement. Papyrologica Bruxellensia, 23(Brussels: Fondation égyptologique reine Elisabeth, 1989); “Understanding P. Ness. 18” (with Ranon Katzoff) ZPE 84 (1990) 211-3.

    Kleine SchriftenOn Government and Law in Roman Egypt; Collected Papers of Naphtali Lewis, ed. Ann Ellis Hanson American Studies in Papyrology 33 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995). 

  • Notes:

    With undergraduate training at City College (A.B. magna cum laude, 1930) in Classics and French, Lewis entered the Master’s program at Columbia University. He remembered the teaching as generally mechanical and uninteresting. Its high point was a papyrology course in the History Department with William Linn Westermann in the spring of 1932, in which the other students were Meyer Reinhold and Moses Finkelstein (later Finley), both to have distinguished careers. The course focused on the Zenon papyri in the Columbia collection, and Lewis took naturally to the text editing, Westermann’s weaker side. Prospects for continuing to the doctorate at Columbia after his M.A. that year were nonexistent, for Lewis had no money (and was offered no fellowship), and in any case the department was so uninspiring that he looked elsewhere. There was nowhere in the U.S. at that point where he could get the papyrological training he needed , and a providential fellowship from the American Field Service sent him to France.

    In France, Lewis was taught by Paul Collart, whom he remembered as paternal and solicitous, for papyrology and by Gustave Glotz for history. His dissertation on the papyrus industry was publicly defended (with a grade of “très honorable”) before these two luminaries and André Piganiol; in its published versions (first in French, later in English as Papyrus in Classical Antiquity, 1974) it has become a classic monograph. His fluent French, on display on that occasion, was to serve him well throughout his career, including three terms as president of the Association Internationale de Papyrologues (1974-83).

     After the defense, Lewis held a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome for two years, and he was also a member of IFAO in the winter of 1934-35, with Pierre Jouguet and Octave Guéraud for mentors and Jean Scherer, his contemporary at the Sorbonne, as company. They all worked together on the Fouad papyri. That spring, Lewis traveled in the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean, including Palestine and Lebanon. Memories of a bus trip to Baalbek in a spring snowstorm, in the middle of which a train of camels appeared, were still fresh more than six decades later. He then went on to Istanbul, Athens, and Italy, culminating at the Florence papyrological congress of 1935.

    The great depression was not an easy time to enter academic life, and Lewis pieced together part-time and visiting posts for two years until he found an instructorship from 1938 at New York University, where Lionel Casson, who was to be his lifelong friend, had been hired not long before. The department head, Casper Kraemer, persuaded Westermann to let Lewis edit the Karanis fourth-century papyri in the Columbia collection. 

    During the second World War, Lewis worked in the War Department as a translator for the Corps of Engineers and as director of war research at Columbia. He continued at Columbia after his war service, teaching classics until he found his permanent position at Brooklyn College, where he taught from 1947 until his retirement in 1976 as Distinguished Professor, taking an active role also in the City University’s Graduate School in midtown Manhattan. In retirement he and his wife, Helen Block Lewis, a distinguished psychologist and psychoanalyst with a doctorate from Columbia, lived in Connecticut, with Lewis doing some teaching at Yale, summering as they had since 1945 in their house in Croydon, New Hampshire. Later still, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where their two children (Judith Lewis Herman and John B. Lewis) lived, became their winter home. After Helen’s death in January 1987, Toli suffered a heart attack and came back to normal activity only slowly, but he was eventually remarried very happily to Ruth Markel and, despite significant arthritic difficulties, traveled quite a bit, with Jerusalem and Santa Barbara favored haunts. Like his contemporary T. C. Skeat, he continued to write to the end and remained unceasingly interested in the work of others. Ruth’s death in November 2004 was a great blow.

    Lewis’s voluminous work ranged widely, as can be seen from the bibliographies in BASP 15 (1978) 2-8 (prepared by Ralph Keen) and in Lewis’s On Government and Law in Roman Egypt (American Studies in Papyrology 33, Atlanta 1995) xi-xiii. Its core, apart from the editing of papyrus texts, is well described by the title of the latter book, in which many of his articles are collected, but one could say above all that Lewis was a student of administration, particularly of the ways in which the Romans used compulsory public service instead of professional bureaucracy. This work took final form in The Compulsory Public Services of Roman Egypt (second edition, Papyrologica Florentina 28, 1997), an indispensable work for anyone concerned with the liturgical system. His shrewd understanding of human nature, particularly in its administrative manifestations, enabled him to see the real functioning of the people and institutions behind the bland prose of official documents.

    Another side of Lewis’s work is represented by his two books aimed at a wider audience, Life in Egypt under Roman Rule and Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt, as well as sourcebooks: the sweeping and voluminous Roman Civilization (2 vols., 1951 and 1955, with his old Columbia classmate Meyer Reinhold) plus smaller volumes of translated texts on the fifth century B.C., the Roman principate, and the interpretation of dreams. Despite the seemingly parallel character of the two books on Egypt, the Roman book is much more thematic in nature, the Ptolemaic one more episodic and microhistorical, as a series of case studies. With their clear and graceful style, plus the teacher’s gift of fastening on interesting details, both have reached the intended broad audiences and brought the papyrologist’s work to a general public and to undergraduates (both have been translated into French).

    Given his long study of administration, it is not surprising that Lewis was also a capable administrator and leader, serving as associate dean of Broooklyn College for seven years and then as executive officer of the classics program at the City University’s Graduate School and University Center. He was the ASP’s second president (1965-69) and in that role a strong supporter of the program of summer seminars held between 1966 and 1970. He was, indeed, deeply devoted to nurturing younger generations of scholars, whom he treated as colleagues, and unstintingly generous of his time in reading work and offering advice. 

  • Sources:

    Roger S. Bagnall, " In Memoriam Naphtali Lewis 1911-2005," BASP 43 (2006) 5-8 repr. with an addition in in M. Capasso, ed., Hermae 2 (Pisa-Rome 2010); Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe, & Susan F. Henssonow, Naphtali Lewis (Gardners Books, 2011); WhAm 40 (1978-9) 1954, Alan K. Bowman, CW 100,4 (2007) 446-8.

  • Author: Roger S. Bagnall