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Hardcover The Bible and the Ancient Near East Book

ISBN: 0393039420

ISBN13: 9780393039429

The Bible and the Ancient Near East

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Book Overview

This account of the historical context for the Hebrew Bible explores the diverse origins of such stories as the creation and the flood in the cultures of the ancient Near East. The authors show the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Must Read Book for Both Christians and Bible critics

This book is a classic, first published in 1953, but fortunately it continues to be updated, up to 1997 (4th ed). The authors succinctly cover a huge expanse of time and geography while putting it all in perspective and context so that you learn not only about the Bible but about world history in general. The authors respect not only the Biblical text, but all the ancient texts (see footnote on p. 117), unlike "higher critics" who seem to assume all the ancient writers (especially Bible authors) were either pathological liars or bumbling fools. Some reviewers (see below) have criticized the book for taking the Bible too seriously, while some Christians may feel it doesn't take the Bible (e.g., Bible chronologies) seriously enough. Overall, though, it seems pretty well balanced - an excellent, scholarly look at Old Testament times from all angles! My only complaint is that, given the enormous amount of time, ancient texts, people, places, and archaeology covered by the book, it can't be longer. That, nonetheless, is what makes it an excellent book for readers who don't want too much detail. Hopefully, the publishers will continue to revise and expand this book in the future.

Enlightening, incredible, breath-taking

I had the privilege of taking two courses with Dr. Rendsburg, and my biggest regret about college is not taking more. This book complements the courses I took (although it wasn't our textbook) and it's been a joy reading about everything discussed in class.Dr. Rendsburg and Dr. Gordon's approach will not satisfy those who want a literal approach to the Biblical text. For anyone who wants the Biblical stories placed in a historical context, however, this work will do exactly that. By matching elements of the Biblical text to ancient near eastern documents and history, the Biblical stories are placed into the greater context of their times, which I find extremely enlightening. Find out why dream interpretation occurs in Daniel and Joseph and nowhere else; learn how the patriarchs' family structure fits exactly into the legal construction of the family and land inheritance as described in texts from Ugarit; follow the understanding of the God of Israel from the chief god among many to the only God.The authors treat the Bible with great respect, searching out the historical facts, illuminating where epic tradition colors the text, and relating the growth of Judaism to the political, social, and literary climate of the times in which it was written. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a greater appreciation of either the Bible or the ancient world.

A very useful introduction

This book will be very useful for any new student of the Ancient Near East (ANE). It places the events of the entire ANE (Egypt to Sumeria, Canaan to Babylon with some Greek)during the Old Testament times in great perspective. What I liked about it is the way in which it explains Biblical events and customs within their contemporaty meanings. There's a review on this site that calls the book narrow minded and ignorant of science and archeology, but I disagree with this. Remember that in this book we read about how the people of the ANE understood and interpreded their lives AT THE TIME and how this relates to the Biblical genre, it's not trying to influence how we interpret the Bible TODAY. In fact, it's not proselytizing in any way, it's objective historical information. It really is a very good introduction to the Old Testament and it's fascinating to learn more about it's contemporary culture in this book. I recommend it.

A super, super, super book.

This book is a 'must read' for any student of the Ancient Near East. It places the events of the entire ANE (Egypt to Sumeria, Canaan to Babylon with a bit of Greek thrown in)during the Old Testament times in great perspective.For Bible students: it clarifies and discusses many, many Bible stories and happenings in a very enlightning way.THIS IS A GREAT READ!!!!

Revealing and amusing

The reason I've bought this book is that certain documentaries about the Near East made me aware how ignorant I really was with respect to one of the most important chapters in the history of civilization. While one gets a lot of serious reading about Greeks and Romans (starting with the primary school), his "knowledge" of the Hebrews is mostly based on the Bible, or on the books and movies in which the stories from the Bible are reproduced literally. For the most conservative believers (I guess these include the Kansas educational board), this is also the way it ought to be. On the other hand, for those who possess some degree of criticism, it is obvious that these stories are a mix of myths, legends, and certainly some historical truth. Books for the general reader which speak about the facts behind the Bible are few.The book by Gordon and Rendsburg fills this void efficiently and with style. It is both revealing and amusing, as the authors do not practice the dry style of an expertise. Instead, their story is pleasant to read, often interweaved with familiar parallels from the more recent history. The reason why I restrain myself from appointing the fifth star is that some footnote comments are definitely more of a distortion than a delight to read. Many footnotes are in place, including all of the citations, but some comments are much too elaborate and tend to repeat themselves. For me, skipping all the footnotes would mean remaining unacquainted with many interesting facts, so this is not the solution. I hope the next edition will revise the footnotes, perhaps with some constructive input from the readers.Still, it is a very good book, and I warmly recommend it to anyone interested in the facts behind the Bible. For those who will like this book as I did, I suggest also reading Dead Sea Scrolls: The Complete Story by J. Campbell, which takes off where this book ends.
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