Edwin Masao Yamauchi was born in Hilo, Hawaii, in 1937 to Japanese-American parents of modest means. Over the course of his career, he emerged as an eminent figure in biblical studies. He completed undergraduate study at the University of Hawaii and Shelton College, and then earned an MA and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University under the renowned Semiticist, Cyrus H. Gordon. Dr. Yamauchi taught briefly at Shelton College and Rutgers University, but served most of his distinguished career in the history department at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he is Professor Emeritus of History.
Edwin Yamauchi’s scholarship includes publications spanning popular and specialist work, all reflecting his extensive knowledge of ancient and modern languages. Some may know Dr. Yamauchi from his commentaries on Ezra and Nehemiah, while others may recognize him an expert on Mandaic magical texts. Still others will remember his lively responses to the exotic theories of Morton Smith and Immanuel Velikovsky. Notable works such as "Pre-Christian Gnosticism" (1973), "Archeology and the Bible" (1979), "Persia and the Bible" (1990), and "Africa and the Bible" (2004) only begin to describe Dr. Yamauchi’s broad interests including magic, Mandaeism, "Gnosticism" and Second Temple Judaism. His recent four-volume series, "The Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical & Post-Biblical Antiquity" (2016), accents his breadth of expertise.
Dr. Yamauchi’s excellence as a scholar is exceeded only by his reputation as a teacher, doctoral supervisor, and Christian gentleman. He supervised dozens of graduate theses and dissertations at Miami University. His longstanding relationship with the campus InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter led to speaking engagements at numerous universities, paralleling a public presence marked by articles in publications like Christianity Today. Yamauchi was a founding member of the Oxford Bible Fellowship meeting in the midst of the Miami University campus, an enduring venue for students and community members. Students, scholars, and laypersons alike are heirs to Dr. Yamauchi’s legacy.
Scholars Initiative’s founding Executive Director, Dr. Jerry Pattengale, earned his doctoral degree under Professor Yamauchi’s direction, and has noted: "Throughout his career, Dr. Yamauchi has demonstrated a sustained depth in both content and character. As a mentor, he exudes intellectual humility, never writing without reflection — reflection buttressed by his careful research."
The Yamauchi Award is a scholarship awarded annually to the Logos Fellow exhibiting scholarly promise and exceptional command of biblical languages. Scholars Initiative staff will contact the Logos Fellows with details concerning the application process in September of each year. Questions may be directed to Yamauchi.Award@mbible.org