Reviews of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 61:2 (Fall 1999)
Article: Reviews of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews of Books

John D. Currid: Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997. 272 pp. $21.99, paper.

The fact that there are points of contact between ancient Egypt and the OT seems obvious to any diligent reader of the Bible. However, due to much of the modern revisionistic attitude towards the historical dimension of the events presented in the OT, many of these interrelationships are nowadays considered to be only apparent and anachronistic. It is thus claimed that the biblical writers’ vague understanding of some of the cultural aspects of ancient Egypt served only to give the impression that the purported events have a historical character, but in reality they are nothing more than fictitious accounts portrayed as history.

Addressing this “hermeneutic of suspicion,” Dr. John Currid points out that the biblical authors are given too little credit for their familiarity with the ancient Near Eastern cultures, particularly with that of Egypt. He attempts “to show many firm points of contact between Egypt and the Bible on a variety of levels” (13), and, by doing so, to argue for the veracity of the historical dimension of the biblical material, as well as to provide welcome help for the biblical exegete in understanding passages that make reference to Egypt and her culture.

The book is well structured. After a helpful “Chronology of Egypt and Palestine with a Select List of Kings” and the “Introduction,” the author follows an expected canonical trajectory by dividing the material in four sections. Thus, he deals in order with points of contact between Egypt and the Pentateuch, the historical books, the poetical books, and the prophetic literature.

In the Introduction (chapters 1–2) the author discusses some more general issues, such as the reasons for the recent sparse interest in exploring the relationship between Egypt and the Bible, the common contemporary attitude toward the biblical stories when compared to ancient Near Eastern (ANE) mythology, as well as a discussion about the striking contrast between the Israelite and other ANE cosmologies (including Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Canaan).

An important observation is that since we have no example from the ANE in which myth developed into history/fact, we should not claim that the biblical stories have undergone that process. Rather, given the differences between the biblical stories and the parallel ANE accounts, as well as the fact that ANE simpler stories tend to grow into more elaborate accounts, the author suggests that the best way to explain the similarities between the biblical stories and parallel ANE accounts is to suggest that fact (such as the biblical story of creation) developed into myth, or ele...

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