Albert Henrichs, a globally-renowned scholar of Greek literature and religion, died April 16. He was 74.The earlier obituary was noted here. That article also covered the information on his fascinating publications quoted above. But this one includes additional information about his life and personality. I got my PhD at Harvard in the 1980s in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. I had some contact with Classics but, regrettably, I cannot remember ever meeting Professor Henrichs.
Born in Cologne, Germany, Henrichs was just 26 when he made his first major academic discovery.
“He took four lumps of leather in a cigar case from Cologne through to Vienna, and gave them to the conservator there to try and unpeel them,” recalled Kathleen M. Coleman, a Classics professor.
What Henrichs unveiled was a codex that detailed the origins of the Manichean religion, an early rival to Christianity, in far more detail than was previously known. Following this breakthrough, Henrichs was also the first to assemble and translate 46 fragments of papyrus from Cologne, which turned out to contain portions of an ancient Greek novel, called the “Phoinikika,” or “Phoenician Saga.”
This novel included “a hugely exciting scene of cannibalism,” in which, as Coleman described it, “the protagonist joined a band of robbers in Egypt and they murdered a boy, took out his heart, roasted it, applied olive oil and seasonings, cut it up, and ate it to swear an oath of allegiance to the gang.”
Cross-file under Manichean Watch (Manichaean Watch).