North American Scholar

NOCK, Arthur Darby

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1902-02-21
  • Born City: Portsmouth
  • Born State/Country: England
  • Parents: Cornelius & Alice Mary Ann Page N.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1963-01-11
  • Death City: Cambridge
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Education:

    B.A. Cambridge (Trinity Coll.), 1922; M.A., 1926; LL.D. Birmingham, 1934; Dr. honoris causa Paris, 1952; L.H.D. Jewish Theol. Sem., 1960.

  • Professional Experience:

    Fell. Clare Coll., Cambridge, 1923-30; univ. Ictr. class., 1926-30; vis. lecturer hist. relg. Harvard, 1929-30; Frothingham prof. hist. relg., 1930-63; ed. HThR, 1930-63; Donnellan lctr. Trinity Coll., Dublin, 1931; Lowell lecturer, King's Chapel, Boston, 1933; Gifford lctr. Aberdeen, 1939-40, 1946-7; Haskell lecturer, Oberlin, 1941-2; adv. bd. ACLS, 1937-41; sr. fell., Soc. Fellows Harvard; memb. APS; corr. fell. Brit. Acad.; Germ. Arch. Inst.; Bavarian Acad. Sci.

  • Publications:

    Sallustius Concerning the Gods and the Universe (Oxford, 1926); "Early Gentile Christianity and Its Hellenistic Background," in Essays on the Trinity and the Incarnation," ed. A. E. Rawlinson (London, 1928); "The Diis Electa: A Chapter in the Religious History of the Third Century," HThR 23 (1930) 251-74; "ovvvaoq 0e6c," HSCP 41 (1930) 1-62; Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo (London & New York, 1933); "The Genius of Mithraism," JRS 27 (1937) 108-113; "Magical Texts from a Bilingual Papyrus in the British Museum," ed. with H. I. Bell & Herbert Thompson, PBA 17 (1937) 235-87; St. Paul (London, 1938; Germ, trans., Paulus, tr. Hans Heinrich Schaeder [Zurich & Leipzig, 1940]); "A Feature of Roman Religion," HThR 32 (1939) 83-96; "Orphism or Popular Philosophy," HThR 33 (1940) 301-15; Hermes Trismegistre in Corpus Hermeticum; text by Nock, trans. A.-J. Festugiere (Paris, 1945).Kleine Schriften: Essays on Religion in the Ancient World, ed. Zeph Stewart, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1972).

  • Notes:

    Nock was one of the most distinguished classicists of the 20th century. From annual reviewer at the age of 20 for The Year's Work in Classical Studies to his work in early Christianity and Hellenistic culture, he was to earn the oft-quoted quip that "Arthur Darby Nock knows everything that there is to be known down to the year 325 A.D." He did have an incredible memory and amazing linguistic command that he combined with an unusual "speed and accuracy in reading and a delight in the discovery, ordering, and establishment of facts" (Harvard Memorial Minute, 1964). He saw himself as primarily a historian whose knowledge of primary sources enabled him to reconstruct the life and culture of a particular time and who considered the essence of religion to be in the popular practice of piety and cult. He taught seminal courses in the history of ancient religions and seminars in Greek and Roman religion with an infectious verve and enthusiasm. His knowledge was vast and encyclopedic. His love of students as well as scholarship was legendary and the admiration and respect of his colleagues genuine.

  • Sources:

    Gnomon 35 (1963) 318-9; HThR 57 (1964) 65-8; JRS 53 (1963) 168-9; R. archeol. 1 (Apr. 1963) 203-5; WhAm 4:705.

  • Author: John E. Rexine