Ancient Eastern Thought and the Old Testament

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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY
THE BIBLE AMONG THE MYTHS JOHN, N. OSWALT

A SUMMARY PAPER OF THE TEXT
ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN THOUGHT AND THE OLD TESTAMENT
SUBMITTED
TO DR. RANDY G. HANEY

DEPARTMENT OF THEOLOGY

BY

03 MARCH 2013
Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1: HISTORY AND METHODS3
CHAPTER 2: COMPARATIVE STUDIES, SCHOLARSHIP, AND THEOLOGY6
CHAPTER 3: SUMMARY OF THE LITERATURE OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST10
CHAPTER 4: THE GODS14
CHAPTER 5: TEMPLES AND RITUALS19
CHAPTER 6: STATE AND FAMILY RELIGION22
CHAPTER 7: COSMIC GEOGRAPHY25
CHAPTER 8: COSMOLOGY AND COSMOGONY28
CHAPTER 9: UNDERSTANDING THE PAST HUMAN ORIGINS AND ROLE31
CHAPTER 10: UNDERSTANDING THE PAST34
CHAPTER 11: ENCOUNTERING THE PRESENT38
CHAPTER 12: ENCOUNTERING THE PRESENT43
CHAPTER 13: ENCOUNTERING THE PRESENT46
CHAPTER 14: PONDERING THE FUTURE ON EARTH AND AFTER DEATH49
POSTSCRIPT53

CHAPTER 1: HISTORY AND METHODS
History
Thousands of texts were unearthed, translated and analyzed starting in the eighteenth century. Assyriologist Freidrich Delitzsch claimed that the Bible was plagiarized from Mesopotamian literature. This was an important statement as it would indicate that the Old Testament was not divine and that Christianity was rooted in mythology. As biblical scholars came to the defense of the Bible, a sharp division was created between a confessional standpoint and the secular view. Over a century of time allowed scholars to recognize that Delitzsch was quite biased in his assertions. W. W. Hallo introduced a more balanced approach to the argument; his approach was referred to as “contextual approach” whose goal was to identify both similarities and differences between the Bible and mythology. Methodology

What is Comparative Study?
Background or cultural studies, scrutinize literature and archeology in order to “reconstruct the behavior, beliefs, culture, values, and world view of the people.” Comparative studies is a subdivision of cultural studies that looks at a wider culture in an attempt to absorb from one culture and augment the knowledge of another.

Development of Sound Methodology for Comparative Study
Scholars, who were either defending the Bible, or defending the ancient Near East, became entangled by using cultural and comparative studies to prove their passion rather than finding truth. It took several generations of corrective steps to create a suitable method for the use of cultural and comparative studies. One of the most noteworthy correctives was that both biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies were independent. Why do Bible Students need Comparative Study?

Cultural Dimensions of Language and Literature
Cogent articulation requires that both speaker and audience understand the terminology employed. When studying ancient writings, the researcher cannot assume that terms have the equivalent meaning today as they did anciently; nor can the examiner make the words mean whatever he wants them to mean. When comparative studies are done, the scholar should assemble evidence of similarities then endeavor to ascertain if perceptions between the two subjects are also comparable. Cultural Dimensions of Literary genre

Vigilant scrutiny of similarities and differences in ancient texts assist in enlightening the study of both the Bible and ancient Near Eastern literature. Understanding how societies contemplate their world and themselves, help researchers identify nuances that are totally divergent from how modern society thinks. Thus understanding literary genre is vital to perceive the authors intents. Similarities do not disprove uniqueness; instead you may find distinctiveness in the understanding or environment of the literary work. Contrasting differences between the ancient Near Eastern genres and the Bible help make significant points clearer. Nuances can be missed if the reader is unaware of the contrasts. Cultural Dimensions of Religious Practice

Identifying...
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