Daily Archives: October 21, 2012

“You could feel the wheels turning”

Obituaries for Frank Moore Cross (1921–2012) are beginning to appear in various sources. William Yardley writes in The New York Times about Cross:

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.

“That we know that a particular scroll comes from 100 B.C. and not 50 A.D. is almost entirely due to the study of the scripts and their development that he worked out,” Mr. Machinist said. “That may seem like a trivial point, but if you don’t have a sense of when these texts are dated, you have no sense of their historical importance.”

Once, several colleagues said, after carbon dating confirmed dates that he had established through script analysis, Dr. Cross joked that he was happy to hear that his script studies had validated the practice of carbon dating.

The article mentions the study habits of Dr. Cross.

Dr. Cross often sequestered himself in his study at home until late into the night.

“He was very intense, and we would just kind of tiptoe by the study,” Ms. Gindele [one of his daughters] recalled. “My mother liked to say you could feel the wheels turning and not to bother him.”

The full article may be read here.

Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, writes here about the life and influence of Cross under the title, “The End of an Era.”

Jim Davila, who wrote a dissertation under Cross, offers some interesting reminiscences here.

HT: Jack Sasson and Joseph Lauer