Schäfer chosen for Mellon award

Peter Schäfer, the Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Judaic Studies at Princeton, has been selected by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as one of four winners of its Distinguished Achievement Awards.

The three-year awards, amounting to as much as $1.5 million each, are intended to honor scholars who have made significant contributions to humanistic inquiry.

Widely considered among the foremost scholars of Judaism in late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, Schäfer has had a major impact, not only on specialists in Judaic studies, but also on a much broader range of scholars in humanistic and religious fields, including early Christianity, mysticism, Renaissance literature and numerous other subjects, according to the Mellon Foundation.

"A meticulous scholar, he exemplifies traditional erudition of the highest order in tandem with openness to new questions and approaches," the news release announcing the award stated. "His works have covered both the central corpus of rabbinic literature, and significant but less-well-known works of Jewish mystical literature and related subjects produced in the same period. In addition to the great influence of his analytical and historical studies, Schäfer has brought his scholarly energy and vision to the creation of key resources for the field in scholarly editions of major primary source texts and related tools for critical study."

Schäfer is credited with fostering a revival of Judaic studies in Germany and, through his students who now occupy important academic posts in many countries, throughout Europe.

Also a professor of religion at Princeton and currently the director of the Program in Judaic Studies, Schäfer has been a faculty member at the University since 1998.

The Mellon Foundation's Distinguished Achievement Awards -- in contrast to other notable academic award programs that benefit individual scholars exclusively -- are designed to recognize the interdependence of scholars and their institutions. While this grant program honors the achievements of individuals, the grants themselves support specific institutional programs of activities that will enhance both research and teaching. In general, the awards underwrite a portion of recipients' salaries and their research expenses, while also providing support for colleagues and students engaged in collaboration with the awardees.