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Freedman, David Noel 1922–2008

Freedman, David Noel 1922–2008


See index for CA sketch: Born May 12, 1922, in New York, NY; died of complications from heart disease, April 8, 2008, in Petaluma, CA. Biblical scholar, archaeologist, historian, educator, author, and editor. Freedman was a highly produc- tive scholar, editor, and author. His literary accomplishments represented only a part of a long and active career, but they include his longest-lasting affiliation. From 1956 to 2008 Freedman was the founding general editor of the highly regarded "Anchor Bible Commentary." Under his leadership the book series grew to nearly one hundred volumes, some of which he wrote himself. Freedman demanded that contributors to the series strive for balanced presentations, but he drew his authors from highly diverse backgrounds and religious denominations. His insistence on objectivity made the series attractive to general readers as well as to clergy and theology students. Freedman also edited Bible dictionaries and reference collections, but his own interests led him far afield. He earned degrees in history and theology and a doctorate in Semitic languages. He directed biblical archaeology field projects and studied biblical geography. Freedman taught biblical literature at several universities, most notably at the University of Michigan from 1971 to 1992, but also at the University of California at San Diego and various theological seminaries. Freedman was a prolific writer and editor as well. His original scholarship includes the books The Secret Sayings of Jesus: The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (1960), An Explorer's Life of Jesus (1975), The Nine Commandments: Uncovering a Hidden Pattern of Crime and Punishment in the Hebrew Bible (2000), and What Are the Dead Sea Scrolls and Why Do They Matter? (2007). Freedman edited Internet Bible series, numerous biblical atlases, biographical directories, biblical chronologies, and served on the editorial staffs of periodicals, including the Journal of Biblical Literature and Biblical Archaeologist. One of his later editorial projects was his work on the book The Rivers of Paradise: Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad as Religious Founders (2001).



Beck, Astrid B., and other editors, Fortunate the Eyes That See: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman in Celebration of His Seventieth Birthday, William B. Eerdmans Publishing (Grand Rapids, MI), 1995.

Friedman, Richard Elliott, and William H.C. Propp, editors, Le-David maskil: A Birthday Tribute for David Noel Freedman, Eisenbrauns (Winona Lake, IN), 2004.

Meyers, Carol L., and M. O'Connor, editors, The Word of the Lord Shall Go Forth: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman in Celebration of His Sixtieth Birthday, Eisenbauns (Winona Lake, IN), 1983.


Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2008, p. B7.

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