Schniedewind, William M. 1962–

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Schniedewind, William M. 1962–

PERSONAL: Born September 5, 1962, in New York, NY; married; children: two. Education: George Fox University, B.A., 1984; Jerusalem University College, M.A. (historical geography of ancient Israel), 1986; Brandeis University, M.A. (Near Eastern and Judaic studies), 1989, Ph.D., 1992.

ADDRESSES: OfficeUniversity of California, Los Angeles, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Culture, Kinsey Hall 392, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1511. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Hebrew University Bible Project, research associate, 1985–86; Jerusalem University College, instructor, 1992–94; University of California—Los Angeles, assistant professor, 1994–99, associate professor, 1999–2003, professor of Biblical studies and northwest Semitic languages and chair, Department of Near-Eastern Languages and cultures, 2003—. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, USIA fellow, 1992–94; Hebrew University, visiting scholar, Institute for Jewish Studies, 1996; Claremont School of Theology, adjunct professor, 1996; Claremont Graduate School, adjunct professor, 1998; Pomona College, adjunct professor, 2000. Member of board, Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center.

MEMBER: American School of Oriental Research, Society of Biblical Literature.


The Word of God in Transition: From Prophet to Exegete in the Second Temple Period, Sheffield Academic Press (Sheffield, England), 1995.

Society and the Promise to David: The Reception History of 2 Samuel 7:1-17, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Proceedings of the Eleventh World Congress of Jewish Studies: Division A: The Bible and Its World, World Union of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem, Israel), 1994; The Chronicler as Theologian: Essays in Honor of Ralph Klein, edited by M. Graham, S. McKenzie, and G. Knoppers, Continuum (New York, NY), 2003; and Jerusalem in Bible and Archaeology: The First Temple Period, edited by Andrew G. Vaughn and Ann E. Killebrew, Scholars (Atlanta, GA), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of Biblical Studies, Religious Studies Review, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Harvard Theological Review, Journal of Semitic Studies, and Jewish Quarterly Review.

WORK IN PROGRESS: (With Joel Hunt) A Primer for Ugarit: Language, Culture, and Literature, for Cambridge University Press.

SIDELIGHTS: Author and biblical scholar William M. Schniedewind is a specialist in areas pertaining to the Hebrew Bible, northwest Semitics, and Second Temple Judaism. He is a prolific contributor to journals covering topics such as biblical archaeology, scripture interpretation, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and theology. A professor of biblical studies and northwest Semitic languages at the University of California, Los Angeles, he teaches courses in areas such as ancient Jewish history, Jerusalem, biblical texts, and the Apocrypha.

In Society and the Promise to David: The Reception History of 2 Samuel 7:1-17 Schniedewind undertakes a detailed study and analysis of the promise to David found in 2 Samuel 7:1-17: the promise to David that his "house and kingdom shall be made sure forever" and that God will "appoint a place for his people Israel … that they may live in their own place and be disturbed no more." This section of the Bible has been important to biblical history and interpretation, and proved pivotal to creating the political climate in Israel and the Middle East at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Schniedewind clearly lays out his research and interpretative methodology in six complex chapters, covering topics such as the origin of God's promise, the historical time periods relevant to the promise, the reception and interpretation of the promise in biblical times, and Second Temple Judaism and the interpretation of the promise as found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. His study ends at the rise of Christianity, "which marked a new phase in the history of the promise," noted John J. Collins in the Journal of Religion. "There is much about this monograph that is impressive," Collins observed, including Schniedewind's application of modern literary theory to traditional biblical scholarship. "Most impressive is his thorough mastery of the recent archaeology of Israel," which he uses to establish a detailed social context for the reception of the promise in various time periods. "Schniedewind has made a very substantial contribution to the social history of the Judean monarchy and illustrated an approach to biblical interpretation that may be profitably adapted to other topics," Collins concluded.

How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel provides a scholarly argument on how an ancient society in which few people were literate came to rely on a religion that required the extensive study and reading of holy texts. In the ancient world of Mesopotamia, Greece, and Egypt, the ability to write and read was an awe-inspiring skill, seen by some as almost magical, and the tenets of religion were transmitted orally. Schniedewind examines how and when ancient Israel, as well as early Judaism and Christianity, moved to a religion based on written text. "He is well equipped for the task," commented David Carr in Christian Century. "In this and previous publications he demonstrates a thorough grasp of the archaeology of ancient Israel, the history of the Hebrew language, and the development of biblical literature," Carr continued. "here he synthesizes the research of many others to develop a comprehensive story of the writing of the Old Testament."

In How the Bible Became a Book Schniedewind suggests that significant portions of the Bible, including the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, were written a hundred years or more later than commonly thought, at a time when writing had become much more widespread. As Jerusalem became more urbanized, he argues, it became easier to move from an oral to a literary culture. Carr noted that "Schneidewind's argument amounts to a significant rewriting of the history of the development of the Bible," but concluded that "The debate on the origins of the Bible has taken an interesting turn, and Schniedewind's book represents an accessible entry point for listening in on the debate." Reviewer's Bookwatch critic Betsy L. Hogan commented that How the Bible Became a Book "is a welcome addition to biblical studies shelves, as readable and articulate as it is scholarly."



Christian Century, August 24, 2004, David Carr, review of How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel, p. 40.

Journal of Religion, July, 2000, John J. Collins, review of Society and the Promise to David: The Reception History of 2 Samuel 7:1-17, p. 486.

Publishers Weekly, March 8, 2004, review of How the Bible Became a Book, p. 71.

Reviewer's Bookwatch, August, 2004, review of How the Bible Became a Book.

Theological Studies, June, 2000, William J. Fulco, review of Society and the Promise to David, p. 386.


UCLA Near-Eastern Languages and Cultures Web site, (December 17, 2004), "William M. Schniedewind."

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Schniedewind, William M. 1962–

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