Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 65:1 (Spring 2003)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

Bill T. Arnold and Bryan E. Beyer, eds., Readings from the Ancient Near East. Encountering Biblical Studies. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002. Pp. 240. $21.99, paper.

Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager, Life in Biblical Israel. Library of Ancient Israel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001. Pp. xxiii + 440. $39.95, cloth.

Both of these volumes are concerned to place the Old Testament in the larger context of the world in which it was written. The former does so from the point of view of ancient Near Eastern literature relevant to the OT, whereas the latter brings to the topic a thorough presentation of the material culture of Israel and her neighbors. Both volumes will prove to be of benefit to their respective target audiences.

Readings from the Ancient Near East is essentially a user-friendly version of its well-known and more comprehensive predecessors Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ANET, 3d edition 1969) and The Context of Scripture (COS, 2000). It will certainly not replace those earlier volumes, but the authors do not claim this. Its purpose is “to provide college students with a basic collection of the ancient Near Eastern texts that most closely parallel or complement the biblical text” (p. 9). Its main advantages for college students, over against ANET and COS, are its accessibility and affordability. It comprises ninety-one readings from the ancient Near East organized by biblical genre, namely: Pentateuch, Historical Books, Poetic Books, Prophetic Books. Each reading is prefaced by a very brief introduction and, as its stated purpose is not to translate but to disseminate, a bibliographic reference to the academic volume from which the translation is taken.

In other words, Readings is a convenient reprinting of ancient Near Eastern texts that in the editors’ estimation are most relevant for OT study. Apart from an attractive cover, however, little effort seems to have been made by the publisher to “grab” the reader. The volume only contains a modest number of black and white photographs and one map of the ancient Near East (somewhat awkwardly placed at p. 18). Moreover, a brief introduction explaining to readers the value of being conversant with the ancient Near East would have provided a helpful context for the work as a whole. The book concludes with a beginning bibliography and an index of subjects. Doctoral students and professors will feel no need to reach for Readings when they have ANET and COS on their shelves. But college and seminary students will certainly welcome this affordable and accessible alternative.

Life in Biblical Israel is written by tw...

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