Richard Elliott Friedman
Richard Elliott Friedman earned his doctorate at Harvard University, after which he was a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge and Oxford as well as a Senior Fellow of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. He has participated in the City of David Project, and is currently the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia as well as the Katzin Professor of Jewish Civilization Emeritus of the University of California, San Diego. He has been an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow, was elected to membership in the Biblical Colloquium and was president of the Biblical Colloquium West.
Professor Friedman is the author of seven books and the editor of four; he has also authored over sixty-five articles, reviews, and notes in academic books and journals. His books have been translated into Hebrew, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Portuguese, Czech, Turkish, Korean and French. He has been interviewed by CNN’s Larry King and has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Talk of the Nation.” Articles and citations of his work have appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Time, New York Daily News, Newsweek, Commentary, Commonweal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Forward, Moment, The Jerusalem Post, and Ha’aretz. He was a consultant for the Dreamworks film The Prince of Egypt for NBC, The Eternal Light and Mysteries of the Bible for A&E, Who Wrote the Bible? for the PBS series “Nova,” The Bible Revealed for European television’s ARTE, and The Kingdom of David for PBS.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
Everything We Know is Wrong
There have been two revolutions going on in our lifetimes that have changed our entire understanding of the Bible and its world. One is the archaeological revolution. The other is the birth of critical scholarship. Pagans didn’t worship idols or sacrifice their children or have temple prostitution. Biblical Hebrew has tenses that we didn’t know existed until a few years ago. The Bible wasn’t written by the persons whom we thought. Belief in the afterlife in Biblical times was not what we thought. The words for “sin” and “holy” in Hebrew do not mean what we claimed. And there is much more. We are just beginning to come to terms with the meaning of all these discoveries.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVII, November 21 - 23, 2014
The Name(s) of God
Many people have now heard of the Documentary Hypothesis, as well as the “name of God” issue, which was the first key clue to the hypothesis. In two Biblical texts, God’s name is not revealed until the time of Moses. But in another Biblical text, God’s name is known all the way back to Eve. Some people claim that this distinction is not correct or that it is not significant. But it is consistent; there only three exceptions in over 2,000 occurrences of the terms for “God” in the Torah. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirm this, but people claim that the hypothesis has been refuted, replaced, lost its consensus among scholars or that “nobody believes that anymore.” Those claims are not correct. The hypothesis is intact, but the question for this lecture is: Why is there this issue about the name of God? Where did two authors of the Torah get the idea that God’s name wasn’t known until Moses? The answer is a clue to much more than the Documentary Hypothesis.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIII, November 19 - 21, 2010
The Death of the Gods—or Why a Monotheistic God Speaks in the Plural.
This presentation is concerned with how the ancient Israelites made the transition from pagan religion to monotheism, and will examine such questions as: How did it come to pass that they rejected the religion of their ancestors? What did the Israelites who accepted monotheism think about the rest of the world’s pagan beliefs? What did they think about their own grandparents’ beliefs? What happened to the gods that virtually the whole known world had worshipped for millennia? And when did Israel’s monotheism begin? Was it as late as most scholars have thought? And why would a religion that is promoting monotheism picture its God speaking in the plural?
Selected Articles by Richard Friedman
- Taking the Biblical Text Apart BR 21:04, Fall 2005
- Scholars Face Off Over Age of Biblical Stories BR 10:04, August 1994
- Ancient Biblical Interpreters vs. Archaeology & Modern Scholars BAR 34:01, Jan/Feb 2008