Saul Levin

1921 - 2021


SAUL LEVIN (July 13, 1921-March 4, 2021)

Chandler, AZ, formerly of Vestal, NY.  Saul Levin passed away peacefully at home on March 4, of extreme old age.  His wife of 70 years, Ruth, was at his side.

Saul was born in Chicago, the son of Nathan S. Levin and Rose (Finkel) Levin.  From childhood, he showed a talent for learning languages, and developed interests in history, the natural world, birdwatching, and classical music that he maintained throughout his life.  He earned an A.B. degree in Greek, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Chicago in 1942.  Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Signal Corps because of his linguistic and typing ability.  During the war, he was deployed to Algeria and Italy, and he rose to the rank of T-4 (sergeant).  Upon his return to the States and honorable discharge, he was selected for membership in the prestigious Society of Fellows at Harvard from 1946 to 1949.  He then received the PhD from the University of Chicago in 1949. 

After teaching at the University of Chicago and at Washington University in St. Louis, Saul joined the faculty at Binghamton University in 1961, where he made his career.  He taught courses in ancient languages, classical literature and culture, linguistics, and the Bible, and he devotedly mentored students who shared his passions.  He took several turns as chair of the Classics Department, and he was a founder of the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies.  Saul rose to the highest academic rank, that of Distinguished Professor, in 1990.  His numerous publications spanned an exceptionally wide range of topics in classics, medieval and Renaissance studies, Biblical studies, and historical linguistics.  He published books on the Linear B tablets from Crete; on the ancient connections between the Indo-European and Semitic language groups, and on the original meanings of Biblical texts.  He also served as Co-Editor of the academic journal General Linguistics for many years.  After retiring in 2000 at the age of 78, he continued with scholarly research, publishing two books and many articles.  His scholarly publications will continue to inform and inspire generations to come.

Saul married Ruth Harris on March 17, 1951.  Together they raised six children at their home on Harvard St. in Vestal, where they lived for decades.  Both Saul and Ruth were strong proponents of education at all levels, a value they imparted to their children.  They promoted education in the community also.  Together, they established a grant fund for students of the Classics Department at Binghamton University to study ancient languages and enrich their understanding of the classical world.  They engaged deeply with the Jewish community as members of Temple Israel, where they attended Sabbath and holiday services regularly.  In 2006, they relocated to Chandler, AZ, to live close to family.

Saul is survived by his wife Ruth; sons and daughters Nathaniel (Lea) of Rye, NY; Eve of Lawrence, KS; Margaret Phillips of Norman, OK; Anne Hoffmann (Christopher) of Amherst, MA, Daniel (Pamela) of Claymont, DE; and Victoria (Erich Drinkwater) of Chandler, AZ; grandchildren Rose Phillips (Caleb Bissell) of Waterloo, IA; Gabrielle Levin of Brooklyn, NY; Sarah Hoffmann of Amherst, MA; Jonathan Phillips of Kansas City, MO; William Hoffmann of Alhambra, CA; and Samuel Levin of Claymont, DE; and step-grandson Britton Perry of Norman, OK. 

Funeral arrangements are made through Parsons Funeral Home in Binghamton, NY.  Burial will be at Temple Israel Riverside Cemetery in Conklin, NY on Sunday, March 14, 2 p.m. EDT.  Because of the covid epidemic, attendance in person is restricted, but details concerning livestreaming will be posted on the Parsons Funeral Home site. (  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Saul and Ruth Levin Educational Enrichment Fund for the Classics Department (#21375) at the Binghamton University Foundation. ( Livestream Funeral Service       

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Sylvia Horowitz

March 12, 2021 8:32 PM

We were blown away by Saul's mind and by his heart.  He was erudite and also sweet and kind.  Deepest condolences to Ruth and the children.

Rosmarie Morewedge

March 11, 2021 9:56 AM

I extend my sincere condolences to Ruth Levin and to the entire family on the loss of Saul, whom I admired greatly.  When I first arrived on campus, his warm welcome to CEMERS was heart warming.  I respected his wisdom and his great contributions to medieval studies and the humanities at Harpur College.
Rosmarie Morewedge
German and Russian Studies

Margaret Goodfellow and Sara Wokan

March 11, 2021 12:09 AM

March 11, 2021
The League of Women Voters of Broome and Tioga Counties wishes to express our condolences to Ruth Levin, Lifetime Member of the League, and Dr. Levin's family at this time of loss and grief.
Margaret Goodfellow and Sara Wokan, Co-Presidents

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March 10, 2021 12:27 PM
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