David Noel Freedman

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David Noel Freedman
Noel Freedman

(1922-05-12)May 12, 1922
New York City, US
DiedApril 8, 2008(2008-04-08) (aged 85)
Petaluma, California, US
Cornelia Pryor Freedman
(m. 1944; died 2005)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Presbyterian)
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisThe Evolution of Early Hebrew Orthography (1948)
Doctoral advisorWilliam F. Albright
Academic work
DisciplineBiblical studies
Notable studentsKent P. Jackson
Main interestsDead Sea Scrolls

David Noel Freedman (May 12, 1922 – April 8, 2008) was an American biblical scholar, author, editor, archaeologist, and, after his conversion from Judaism, a Presbyterian minister. He was one of the first Americans to work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is the son of the writer David Freedman. He died of a heart ailment.[4]


Freedman was born Noel Freedman in New York City on May 12, 1922, the son of David and Beatrice Freedman. The elder Freedman died in 1936 and Noel adopted his name as a mark of respect. Soon after, he converted to Christianity and became a member of the Presbyterian Church. The New York times misidentified Noel as a girl in David Freedman's obituary.[5]

He attended the City College of New York and he earned his B.A., after which he entered Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned a Bachelor of Theology degree in 1944.[6] He then went on to study Semitic Languages and Literature at The Johns Hopkins University. In 1947, while he was still a graduate student, the excavation of caves near the Dead Sea was just beginning to unearth thousands of fragments of texts. He became one of the first American scholars to get access and spent twenty years painstakingly studying and translating a scroll of Leviticus, one of the books of the Torah.[7] After earning his doctorate in 1948, he then held a series of professorial and administrative positions at various theological institutions and universities.

As the general editor of several distinguished series, including the Anchor Bible Series (1956–2008), Eerdmans Critical Commentaries (2000–08), and The Bible in Its World (2000–08), and as the editor and author of numerous other award-winning volumes, including the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (2000), Freedman has produced over three hundred and thirty scholarly books. Recent seminal works as an author include The Unity of the Hebrew Bible (1991), Psalm 119: The Exaltation of Torah (1999), The Nine Commandments (2000) and What Are the Dead Sea Scrolls and Why Do They Matter? (2007). As editor of the Leningrad Codex: A Facsimile Edition (1998), Freedman and his colleagues brought the world's oldest complete Hebrew Bible to synagogues, churches, libraries and individuals around the world for the first time in history.

In 1995, a Festschrift was published in his honor. Fortunate the Eyes That See: Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman in Celebration of His Seventieth Birthday included contributions from Francis Andersen, Adele Berlin, Joseph Blenkinsopp, Baruch Halpern, Gary Knoppers, and Choon-Leong Seow.

Freedman died on April 8, 2008.

Teaching positions[edit]

  • 1992–2008: Endowed Chair in Hebrew Biblical Studies at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
  • 1989–97: Program Director for the Study of Religion at UCSD.
  • 1986–92: Teaches at the University of Michigan and UCSD
  • 1984–92: Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Biblical Studies, Univ of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 1971–83: Professor of Biblical Studies, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
  • 1966–71: Dean of Faculty at SFTS
  • 1964–71: Gray Professor of Old Testament Exegesis at San Francisco Theological Seminary (San Anselmo, CA) and the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, CA)
  • 1961–64: James A. Kelso Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
  • 1948–64: Professor of Old Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Western Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, PA
  • 1947–48: Assistant Instructor at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland
  • 1946–47: Teaching Fellow, The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland


Albright Institute of Archaeological Research (American Schools of Oriental Research), Jerusalem
Annual Director, 1969–70, 1976–77
Ashdod Excavation Project
Director, 1962–64


See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.pbydetroit.org/Archives/2007%20January%2023%20-%202007%20November%2027.pdf[dead link]
  2. ^ https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=180244614877[user-generated source]
  3. ^ "Rector's Rough Draft: My Influences". 19 September 2012.
  4. ^ "Scholar was editor of Bible commentary series". Los Angeles Times. 2008-04-17.
  5. ^ "DAVID FREEDMAN, QUIP WRITER, DIES; , Broadway Figure Succumbs in Sleep on Second Day of Cantor Suit Hearing. RISE TO FAME WAS RAPID Comedians and Radio Stars Were Among Those Buying Output of Jokester, 38". The New York Times. 1936-12-09. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2022-08-05. Retrieved 2022-08-05.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Paul, William E. (2015-07-11). English Language Bible Translators. McFarland. ISBN 9781476610238.
  7. ^ Dolbee, Sandi (April 20, 2008). "David Noel Freedman; UCSD Professor a Legend Among Bible Scholars". Union-Tribune San Diego. Archived from the original on November 15, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.

External links[edit]