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Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context: A Survey of Parallels Between Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Texts [Paperback]

By John H. Walton (Author)
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Item description for Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context: A Survey of Parallels Between Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Texts by John H. Walton...

This book surveys within the various literary genres (cosmologies, personal archives and epics, hymns, and prayers) parallels between the Bible and Ancient Near Eastern literature.

Publishers Description
This unique book surveys within the various literary genres the parallels between the Bible and the literature of the ancient Near East. Each section begins with a survey of the available ancient literature, continues with a discussion of the literature, and concludes with a discussion of cases of alleged borrowing. The genres covered are - cosmology - laws - historical literature - wisdom literature - apocalyptic literature - personal archives and epics - covenants and treaties - hymns, prayers, and incantations - prophetic literature

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Zondervan
Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.12" Width: 5.96" Height: 0.69"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 1994
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
ISBN  0310365910  
ISBN13  9780310365914  
UPC  025986365912  

Availability  0 units.

More About John H. Walton

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JOHN H. WALTON (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School. He has authored or edited more than a dozen books, including several Bible commentaries and Bible story books for children.

KIM E. WALTON has been teaching Sunday school and developing and evaluating curriculum for 25 years. The Waltons have three adult children.

John H. Walton currently resides in the state of Illinois. John H. Walton was born in 1952.

John H. Walton has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Bringing the Bible to Life
  2. How to Read
  3. IVP Bible Background Commentary
  4. NIV Application Commentary
  5. Zondervan Get an A! Study Guides
  6. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary
  7. Zondervancharts Zondervancharts

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > Old Testament
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) > Criticism & Interpretation
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) > Study

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > Old Testament Studies > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Ancient Israelite Literature In Its Cultural Cont?

Helpful companion to OT background study  Aug 24, 2004
Dr. Walton's work is well worth reading. As one reviewer suggests, background material is very helpful in shedding light on the text and meaning of the Old Testament. To be fair to Walton, however, requires a more thorough explanation.

Walton's general thesis is that the comparative method can help readers understand the Old Testament better because it helps put us in the place of the original author/audience. While there was an effort earlier in the 19th and 20th centuries to point out only the similarities between texts or only the differences, Walton's approach is similar to that of William Hallo or Lawson Younger; namely, to think through both the similarities and the differences between ancient near eastern texts and the OT biblical canon.

What is particularly helpful about Walton's book is that the material is arranged according to genre. The following genres are covered:

cosmology (trying to understand the ancient's conceptual worldview)
law codes
historical literature
wisdom literature
apocalyptic literature
personal archives
covenants and treaties
hymns, prayers and incantations
prophetic literature

By grouping various ancient texts in this fashion, it provides the reader with a well organized approach and makes using this book as a quick reference very helpful. Each chapter contains an introductory piece on the literary genre, followed by a brief but thorough listing of ancient texts that fit into this genre from Egypt, Canaan and Mesopotamia (absolutely replete with bibliography), concluded by a discussion of the texts and what kinds of insights can be given into biblical texts. It is a trustworthy evaluation because Walton is a faithful evangelical as well as a rigorous scholar. It is important to note that he points out both the similarities and differences. In recognizing similarities, he doesn't suggest gross borrowing, as some in the past suggested, but rather that the biblical material is given by revelation from God into a cultural context that could appropriately understand and receive God's revelation. In this way he upholds the authority of Scripture. Furthermore, he demonstrates very significant differences between the ancient near eastern literature and the biblical corpus such that it becomes increasing clear that the OT functions in different ways we normally wouldn't recognize: polemically against ancient cultures; demonstrating the LORD to be unique and holy compared to other deities; and revealing how extraordinary it is that the LORD, his character, ways and will can be known by the Hebrew people.

Another highlight is that the reader will learn a bit about the comparative method as well. Walton always takes into consideration the following important factors:
Are the texts to be compared of the same genre?
Are the texts to be compared talking about the same subject matter?
Are the texts being compared geographically close enough to suggest an influence one way or another?
Are the texts being compared close enough together in time to be compared?
These are important questions to ask and can go a long way in helping anyone think through many of the crassly alleged cases of "borrowing."

A particular highlight for me is the section on hymns, incantations and omens. Here the reader will be introduced to Mesopotamian laments, for instance, that show that the Mesopotamians had little way of knowing how or if they had offended a diety. You compare that with Psalm 51, for example, and you begin to appreciate all the more how gracious and extraordinary the LORD is who has revealed himself to his people in a discernable and trustworthy way such that they can knowledgably approach him in prayer, repentance, worship or whatever else.

Also, the chapter on treaties and covenants is very helpful in addition to a work like Craigie's commentary on Deuteronomy where the Hittite vassal treaty has long be seen to be parallel to the form of Deuteronomy.

Finally, a very helpful Summary and Conclusions chapter helps bring the material and conclusions together in a neat and summary fashion that is especially helpful for reference and general review.

I recommend this work for the more serious student of the Bible to fill in a crucial and sometimes overlooked area of biblical study and for the seminary or graduate level as well.
Is There Any Other Way?  Mar 1, 2004
The relationship between biblical history and a text that purports to transmit it has long been an interest of mine. Only Fundamentalists can not see that there is a difference between the order of creation found in Genesis 1 and 2. Long ago it occurred to me that the most appropriate way to analyze the historicity of the Bible is to compare it to other writings.

Walton breaks down the literature of the Old Testament into categories such as cosmology, personal archives, legal texts, etc. Each chapter considers the related material, discusses the possibility of borrowing, and suggests further reading. Most of all Walton discusses questions such as whether the Patriarchal Narratives could be personal archives. Though he is a Christian Evangelical, he is willing to concede that Thomas Thompson's _Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives_ et al have made a significant case.

The whole of this debate will go on for years more. This book is for those who want to begin wading through James Pritchard's _Ancient Near Eastern Texts_ or Hallo's and Younger's _Context of Scripture_ in order to compare Israelite literature with that of surrounding cultures. In the final analysis, is there any other way?

Critically and evangelical study of literary parallels  May 14, 1997
The author thoroughly reviews ancient near eastern texts, and compares them to the texts and books of the Old Testament. He gives an analyses of all major genres of the Old Testament literature, and looks for meaningful parallels. This book is highly recommendables, because it is unique in viewing the Old Testament as God's revelation, but nevertheless being honest to the texts he compares them to.Simply a must for every student of theology and for every pastor who takes bible and the ancient world for serious

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