John H. Walton’s Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible is broken up into fourteen chapters. Those fourteen chapters are each part of one of five sections. This book also contains over twenty historical images. Before the introduction, the author gives readers a full appendix of all images used in this published work. The author then gives his acknowledgements followed by a list of abbreviations. Part 1- Comparative studies
The first section of the book is titled comparative studies. This section is comprised of the first two chapters. Chapter one is aptly named history and methods. Chapter two has been dubbed comparative studies, scholarship, and theology. This section covers the growing division between scholars of a secular nature and scholars of a religious nature. The purpose of this part of the book is to defend the Bible from the damage done by comparative studies which twisted evidence to work against the historicity, canonicity, and divine revelation of Gods’ Word, the Bible. Chapter 1- History and methods
Walton starts off this chapter by going back to the late 1800s and mid 1900s, with the rediscovery of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Archeologists were quickly discovering that every bit of history in the Bible was accurate. This was at the height of the theory of evolution and at the prime of the scientific movement. After Darwin, science was just starting to pick up speed. Then, these shocking discoveries put up a heavy barricade between science and theology. This evidence, that should have been made to support the truth of the Bible, was quickly twisted and turned against it. Archeologists were uncovering data that showed themes of parallel theologies to the Old Testament. This could have gone one of two ways. Either the popular opinion would be that the Old Testament influenced the theology of these societies, or that these societies inspired the Old Testament. Unfortunately, scholars such as Friedrich Delitzsch were taking this information in the context of the latter. He used this information to posit that the Bible is not divine at all. Instead, it must be human in origin. Thus a rift was born between theological and secular scholars, and today we have two different sects of scholars. They are scientific scholars and religious scholars. This chapter then switches primary focus to specifically touch on methodology by asking a simple question. What is a comparative study? Walton states that it would be ignorant to believe that all Europeans share the same culture. The same applied in the Ancient Near East. Babylonians, Egyptians, the Israelites, and the lesser civilizations of that time had vastly different cultures with often opposing worldview. However, they did share some commonalities. To understand these commonalities, one must first understand this modern English colloquialism “If you lay down with dogs, you get fleas”. While that may not seem relevant and holds a negative connotation, it is what it is. If two cultures live alongside one another, they will have an influence over the others’ worldview. Now the following question should be asked. Who was influencing who? This is where the role of comparative studies comes into play. Comparative studies look at all the evidence available to paint a mental picture of the world at any given time. These studies look at archeological data, artwork, historical texts, and literature. From there, historians can paint a detailed picture of the culture of these ancient people. These studies can also be called cultural studies. In another turn of direction within chapter one, Walton explains how to develop a sound methodology for a comparative study. And in another sub-chapter, the author makes the suggestion that Bible students should take an interest in comparative studies. He defends this position with a short discussion on the topic of “daylight savings time”. There is no way to translate the term...
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