Father Richard I. Caplice, S.J., a scholar and teacher of ancient Near Eastern languages, died Dec. 12 at Murray-Weigel Hall in the Bronx. He was 80.
He spent many years at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, as a student of theology and Scripture beginning in 1966 and then as a teacher, especially of Assyrian and Akkadian, until 1989. He also was editor of one of the Biblical Institute’s periodicals, Orientalia, and was dean of the Oriental faculty there from 1979 to 1987.
He also taught at the University of Chicago, 1971-1972, and in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, 1973-1977.
His major scholarly works included “Introduction to Akkadian” and “The Akkadian Namburbi Texts.”
After returning to the United States, he did pastoral work at a parish in Jersey City, N.J., 1989-1998, and St. Thomas of Canterbury parish in Cornwall-on-Hudson, 1998-2009. He had lived at Murray-Weigel Hall, the Jesuit provincial infirmary, since 2009.
Born in Manhattan, he entered the Jesuits in Poughkeepsie in 1949 and professed vows in 1951. He studied at Bellarmine College, Plattsburgh, and Loyola Seminary, Shrub Oak, and earned a licentiate in philosophy. He studied theology at Woodstock College in Maryland. As a seminarian, he taught Latin, Greek and English at Xavier High School in Manhattan.
He was ordained at Fordham University Church in 1964.
He held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fordham University. He studied at Johns Hopkins University and completed his doctorate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
He is survived by a sister, Sister Mary Caplice, C.N.D., and a brother, Brother Stephen Caplice, F.S.C.
A Funeral Mass was offered Dec. 16 at the chapel at Murray-Weigel Hall. Burial was at the Jesuit Cemetery in Auriesville.