I am rereading an essay of Frank Moore Cross called “Reuben. the First Born of Jacob: Sacral Traditions and Early Israelite History.” I will put up my summary and reaction to that essay later this week.
Meanwhile, here is the New York Times obituary for professor Cross, who died last week. In part, it says,
“Dr. Cross studied culture, religion and politics of the period in which the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, was written and revised, and he traced the ways different nations and cultures had translated its early texts. He also traced the evolution of ancient script and developed expertise in dating documents by the slightest shifts in writing style.”
He shared with David Noel Freedman an evaluation of old Hebrew poems, like those in Exodus 15 and Judges 5, that dates them almost to the time of the events they celebrate. This undermines the claim of some that the early Hebrew epics were just propaganda pieces invented in the second Temple period and have no historical value
He was also a major player in the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I want to review the article by Frank Moore Cross both to honor his memory and as a fitting follow-up to what I have been writing about the family of Jacob in my series on the Joseph story.