We, your colleagues, wanted to give you a special gift for your eightieth birthday. And what could such a gift for David Noel Freedman possibly be but a book?! Now, we realize that you already have two Festschriften, containing, between them, about a hundred articles. But what can we do? You are quintessentially the man of the book. And perhaps what impresses us most is that your bibliography of hundreds of books is not limited to the extraordinary number of important books that you’ve written yourself. It also contains the books that you’ve edited for others. And we know what it means to have David Noel Freedman as one’s editor. For every page of manuscript that the author sends you, you send back almost an equal number of pages of advice, criticism, corrections, and improvements. You can make a bad book good, and a good book better. And you can make its author a better scholar and a better writer.
So it had to be a book. The only thing we regret about this book is that it couldn’t have you as its editor—but that would have spoiled the surprise! But we hope that it will bring you the satisfaction of knowing that your influence can be found in it: as our colleague, friend, and teacher, who has shared a great deal of wisdom with us over the years that you’ve been among us. And we hope that everyone who reads it and finds something of value in any of its chapters will know that it exists only because you came here and were the kind of colleague who inspired us to offer you this tribute.
So here it is: the gift for the scholar who has everything.
With affection and all best wishes on your eightieth birthday from your colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, and from your former students who are now colleagues in the field