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Arthur Darby Nock
21 February 1902
|Died||11 January 1963 (aged 60)|
|Education||Trinity College, Cambridge|
|Occupation||Classicist and theologian|
Arthur Darby Nock (21 February 1902 – 11 January 1963) was an English classicist and theologian, regarded as a leading scholar in the history of religion. He was a professor at Harvard University from 1930 until his death.
Nock studied at Trinity College at Cambridge University, where he was awarded his bachelor's degree in 1922 and master's degree in 1926. He became a fellow at Clare College in Cambridge in 1923 and then served as a university lecturer in Classics starting in 1926. In 1930, he became Frothingham Professor of the History of Religion at Harvard University in the United States (as successor to George Foot Moore), where he remained the rest of his life. At 28, he was the youngest full professor at Harvard in half a century. As a guest lecturer, he held lectures at various universities, such as Harvard, Trinity College in Dublin (Donnellan Lecturer, 1931), King's Chapel in Boston, and University of Aberdeen (Gifford Lecturer, 1939 and 1946).
As a scholar of religion, Nock was of international importance, as evidenced not only by his extensive work as a guest lecturer, but also by his membership in numerous academies. He was a corresponding member of the British Academy, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1932), the Prussian Academy of Sciences (since 1937), the German Archaeological Institute (since 1937) and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (since 1938). He also received a doctorate from the University of Birmingham (Doctor of Letters in 1934) and an honorary doctorate from both the Sorbonne in Paris (1950) and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York (1960). He was an editor of the Harvard Theological Review from 1930 until his death.
Nock believed that religion was an important subject to be studied, saying "The term religion must be regarded as embracing all thought and language and action which man directs towards the unknown forces around him. It includes those proceedings and attitudes which can technically be classified as magical as well as religious; it includes much which later ripens into philosophy and science." To this end, he advocated the creation of a doctoral degree in the History and Philosophy of Religion at Harvard in order to better prepare students to teach the subject of religion. The degree program was implemented in October 1934. As a member of the steering committee created to guide the creation of the doctorate, Nock ensured that it would include the study of all manner of religious beliefs, from ancient Greek and Roman to Jewish and Indian. This comparative study of world religions eventually became the main focus of the degree, following a review in the 1950s.