Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 58:2 (June 2015) p. 367
Hidden Riches: A Sourcebook for the Comparative Study of the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. By Christopher B. Hays. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014, xxvi + 425 pp., $45.00 paper.
Christopher B. Hays created Hidden Riches in order to help make “intelligent comparison between biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts possible” (p. 6). Hays, who serves as D. Wilson Moore Associate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, felt motivated to do this because he could not find a compendium that also offered pertinent discussions of the comparative issues at an undergraduate or master’s level. Since Hays directs and teaches in the ANE Studies emphasis in Fuller Seminary’s M.A. degree, he decided to expand and publish the introductory materials and discussion topics used in his classroom (pp. 5–6).
The primary purpose of the book is to introduce the student to the interpretive value of the comparative method. Consequently, the book focuses on selected texts from all parts of the OT along with the corresponding ANE data (p. 8). In order to avoid having the book become a mere compendium, Hays developed it by following four specific goals. First, questions that would inevitably be raised by an inquisitive reader were to be anticipated and addressed, such as: Where did these texts come from? When were they written? Who wrote them? Second, mere snippets or excerpts of a few well-known texts must be avoided. All texts must be discussed within the context of their larger composition, genre, and literary contexts. Third, the discussions of each section should offer starting points for analysis and comparison. Such starting points were to help individuals new to literary or comparative study get started in a profitable direction. Finally, the book should itself facilitate motivated readers to explore further. Consequently, the reflection questions and further reading lists should point the student beyond the material in discussion and debate (p. 6).
The structure and organization of the textbook is designed to achieve its primary purpose and specific goals. Twenty-seven chapters are divided into five major parts. Part 1, the Prolegomena, contains two chapters, an Introduction (pp. 3–13) and an essay entitled “History and Methods of Comparative Study” (pp. 15–38). The introduction contains a rationale for the work and a general bibliography. (Future editions should expand this bibliography.) It also explains the purpose of the book and the design of the chapters. The second chapter provides a brief excursus on the historical development of the comparative study of the Bible and the ANE. This includes an account of early comparative scholarship, a brief review of the current status quaestionis...
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