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Józef Tadeusz Milik (Seroczyn, Poland, March 24, 1922 – Paris, January 6, 2006) was a Polish biblical scholar and a Catholic priest. Besides his native Polish, he was fluent in, Russian, Italian, French, German, and English plus many ancient languages Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Syriac, Old Church Slavonic, Arabic, Georgian, Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumerian, Egyptian, and Hittite. Milik published more texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) than any other original team member.
He was born into a peasant family in a small village in central Poland. His father despite being a farmer was interested in science, educated himself and gatherd a rich library. He influenced his son who finished a gymnasium in Siedlce and later entered the theological college in Płock in 1939. When the college was closed by Germans after they invaded Poland he moved to Warsaw. After the World War II he was studying at Catholic University of Lublin and in 1946 was ordained a priest.
Józef Milik deciphered hundreds of the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls as a member of the publication team. He started translating and publishing them in the early 1950s while a student at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.
Then he joined the Roland de Vaux’s team and helped to discover Cave 3, excavated and unearthed hundreds of fragments from Cave 4, and took part in the discovery and excavations of Caves 5 and 6. He would later become one of the most essential participants of the translation and publication team.
- 1944 Entered Catholic University of Lublin to study Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Syriac, & Old Church Slavonic
- 1946 Ordained as a Catholic priest in Warsaw
- Late-1940s Attended Pontifical Oriental Institute and Pontifical Biblical Institute to study Arabic, Georgian, Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumerian, Egyptian, and Hittite
- 1950 Gained a licentiate summa cum laude
- 1951 Began working in Jerusalem to decipher DSS; devised a system of designating the fragments
- 1955 Co-edited first major DSS publication for Cave 1 texts: "Discoveries in the Judaean Desert"
- 1956 Heralded by Time magazine as "the fastest man with a fragment"
- 1959 Published Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of Judaea describing the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery (revision and translation of the 1957 book "Dix ans de découvertes dans le Désert de Juda")
- 1969 Leaves the priesthood and marries Polish art historian Jolanta Zaluska in Rome. Moves to Paris
- 1976 Published The Books of Enoch
After moving to Paris, Milik worked as a researcher for the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique until his retirement in 1987.