22. David Noel Freedman
David Noel Freedman (born: May 12, 1922; died: 8 April 2008), son of the writer David Freedman, was a biblical scholar, author, editor, archaeologist, and ordained Presbyterian minister. After earning a doctorate in Semitic Languages and Literature at the Johns Hopkins University in 1948, Freedman held a series of professorial and administrative positions at various theological institutions and universities.
*Education: attended City College of New York (1935-1938); UCLA (AB in Modern European History, 1938-9); Princeton Theology Seminary (ThB; Hebrew Bible, 1941-4); and Johns Hopkins University (PhD in Semitic Languages and Literature, 1945-8.
Studied with W.F. Albright at Johns Hopkins University. Wrote a dual dissertation with F.M. Cross on the orthography of ancient Hebrew inscriptions ("Early Hebrew Orthography;"1952); analyzed Hebrew, Moabite, Aramaic, and Phoenician inscriptions. Classic work which deals with the vocalization of ancient Hebrew inscriptions and orthographic issues (e.g. matres lectiones; diphthongs).
With F.M. Cross, Freedman identified early Hebrew poems in their classic work entitled, "Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry" (1975). Poems such as Jgs 5, Exod 15 were suggested as the earliest portions of the Hebrew Bible, dating between the 12th-9th cent. BCE.
In his study of Hebrew poetry, Freedman studied line lengths of poems, the infrequency of prose particles within poetry, the details of acrostics, and the structural symmetries of entire poems ("Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy: Studies in Early Hebrew Poetry;" 1980). In this work, and in his work, "Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry," Freedman also discusses issues of ancient Israelite history. In these two works, Freedman was able to recover significant information regarding the early history of ancient Israel. Additionally, in these works, information is gleaned regarding divine names and titles.
Freedman argued for a symmetry in the organization of the Hebrew Canon; he calls the first nine books the "Primary History" and see them as the serving the canonical core and foundation of the remainder of the Hebrew Bible. Argues that Ezra was the "editor" of the Bible and arranged the books into one logical ordering and grouping, i.e., the Hebrew Bible ("The Unity of the Hebrew Bible;" 1991).
Also wrote a commentary on Hosea (1980) and Amos (1989), which are considered standards in the field.
Perhaps greatest contribution was a general editor of Anchor Bible Dictionary (1956-2008)! Also, general editor of Eerdmans Critical Commentaries (2000–2008), and The Bible in Its World (2000–2008); he was also editor of other volumes for shorter periods of time.
Freedman was similar to his teacher, Albright, in that his knowledge covered a vast array of topics relating to Biblical studies. He has done significant work on Hebrew, Phoenician, and Aramaic orthography and grammar; textual criticism; Hebrew poetry; the "primary history"; formation and structure of Hebrew canon; Hebrew lexicography; Israelite history; archaeology; chronology; prophetic literature; biblical theology; and Qumran studies.