Biblical Archaeology Review 16:2, March/April 1990

Celebrating at the Annual Meeting

By Hershel Shanks

Two silver anniversaries were celebrated at the Annual Meetinga in Anaheim last November.

The first was the 25th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of the Anchor Bible series, celebrated with a dinner honoring editor David Noel Freedman.

More than one-and-a-half million copies of the various volumes in the Anchor Bible series have been sold, despite their high scholarly level. The series is certainly the most widely used and probably the most influential modern Bible commentary ever published.

The first, and one of the best-selling (over 84,000 copies), volume in the series—and now the most in need of revision—is E. A. Speiser’s Genesis. It was a path-breaking commentary at the time (1964), defining the patriarchal age chronologically, separating the text into constituent strands and relating events to Mesopotamian archives. The work of a giant, it soon became authoritative. The problem is that for too many, unaware of intervening scholarly insights, it is still considered authoritative. The fact is that it has long been in need of revision; it should now be sold—and must be used—only with caution. That it is so outdated is a mark of how far Biblical scholarship has come in the last 25 years.

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