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The Unity of the Hebrew Bible

David Noel Freedman
This unique approach to the compilation of Hebrew Scripture will affect the way it is read and understood


In The Unity of the Hebrew Bible , David Noel Freedman brings his unique perspective and unparalleled scholarly talents to bear on an analysis of the composition of this ancient work. The author's years of experience in writing and lecturing about Scripture enable him to demonstrate to a lay audience that the Hebrew Bible is the work of a single man or a very small group making deliberate choices and decisions, organizing and arranging the numerous books into a larger whole that is structurally unified and conveys a meaning beyond the content of any single part.

While it may be conventionally held that the Hebrew Bible is divided into three major sections, the author's analysis instead suggests that these segments may be joined into a coherent whole. The author makes a slight but significant adjustment in the work's perceived organization, by linking the Former Prophets with the Torah and joining the Latter Prophets to the Writings. In so doing, he reveals that the Torah and the Former Prophets constitute a single major narrative rather than a series of independently conceived writings. Further, this simple but powerful revision enables Freedman to consider the remaining portions of the Hebrew Bible as distinctive wholes, yet fitted each to the other to form an even larger and more impressive structure.

Delivered originally as lectures in the Distinguished Senior Faculty Lecture Series at the University of Michigan, The Unity of the Hebrew Bible will carry its unusual message to an audience of lay persons and scholars alike—to all who are interested in the history and literature of the Mideast, in biblical scholarship, and in textual theory and transmission.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . offers an informed and ingenious reconstruction of the process which shaped the Hebrew Bible. . . . challenging and stimulating. . . his study is heuristically, not historically, helpful in sorting through the diversity of Hebrew Scriptures and formulating its ideas into coherent themes."
    Critical Review of Books in Religion 1993
  • "For one thing, the book is filled with information about patterns and cross-references within the Hebrew Canon. For another, it is a gold mine of variant textual and versional orderings of the biblical books over the centuries. It also contains many intriguing and stimulating individual discussions, such as why Freedman believes Baruch to have been one of the authors of the Deuteronomic History. . . . The whole book is fun, it is suggestive, and it should convince scholars that there must be some intentional order in the final compilation of the Canon."
    Hebrew Studies
  • ". . . a unique synthesis of two areas of biblical research: (1) the attempt to reconstruct the history of the formation of the Hebrew Bible, and (2) the reading of the Bible as a book with some sort of canonical unity. . . . A fascinating, clearly written book . . . ."
    International Review of Biblical Studies
  • "Freedman's argument about the substantive intention of the Hebrew Bible is important and mainstream. It is that the whole of the literature concerns the sixth-century crisis and the issues of survival and revival. . . . [T]he book is a delight for watching this learned, inventive, uninhibited mind at work in fanciful and suggestive ways. When finished, we know more than we did, which no doubt is Freedman's intention."
    —Walter Brueggemann, Journal of Religion

Look Inside


Lecture 1. The Primary History     1
Lecture 2. The Latter Prophets     41
Lecture 3. The Writings     75
Notes     101
Abbreviations     113
Bibliography     115

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 128pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1993
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08241-4

Add to Cart
  • $27.95 U.S.