ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN THOUGHT AND THE OLD TESTAMENT
Old Testament Introduction
OBST 590 B06
Dr. Randy Haney
March 1, 2013
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The opening chapter begins by orienting the reader to the idea of "comparative study," or the area of study that strives to understand things within their broader cultural context. In the case of this book, the goal is to understand the Old Testament within the context of the Ancient Near Eastern milieu. Walton explains that over the years there has been much debate on the issue of comparative study and the way in which it is to be exercised. Scholars, always biased by their presuppositions, tend to enter the argument negating the importance of the Old Testament on the one side, or defending the inerrancy of Scripture so vehemently that the cultural context is lost. Walton poses a better way, namely, accepting the study of the Ancient Near Eastern cultures as important and academic in their own right while attempting to comprehend the Old Testament in light of what modern scholarship is learning about the ancient world. Studies of this time period often center around who borrowed what literature from whom, but Walton insists that this is not the main issue that ought to be dealt with. Rather, studies of the literature and literary genres of the ANE should assist in the broader understanding of the society. Walton observes several areas that the text will deal with in further details. He first puts emphasis on appreciating the literary genres and how they function as a foundation to any quest into comparative studies. In order to understand the Old Testament fully, one must know how the genres were written and how they are to be interpreted within their cultural context. Secondly, Walton notes religious practices and the necessity of understanding them clearly. Ritual sacrifices, priests, and ceremonial cleanliness are things that are foreign to readers in a modern context. Additionally, a crucial part of understanding the Old Testament is understanding not only the practices of the Israelites, but the practices of the other people groups that made up the ANE. Finally, it is important to understand the theology of a people group and the broader views of God and the gods within the ANE in order to interpret the text well. Walton closes the first chapter by pointing out that comparative studies assists study of the Bible in at least four major areas: (1) history of the ANE, (2) archeological understanding of the lifestyle, (3) literature, and (4) language. CHAPTER 2
Chapter two deals with the different ways in which comparative studies are used within current scholarship. Walton first attends to the ways in which comparative studies are being utilized within critical scholarship. As additional information is unearthed about the ANE, many of the ideas once held in critical scholarship have been challenged. Previous assumptions about texts and thoughts, primarily based on evolution, are being reconsidered. Critical scholarship has a history of assuming that critical thought and religious practice had simple beginnings and have evolved through time. Research is showing these assumptions in source criticism, reaction criticism, and issues of dating to be incorrect in light of the data. Though, as Walton notes, there has been some resistance to comparative studies within the circles of critical scholarship, most of the data being provided is being accepted and studied at greater length. Walton also notes the use of comparative studies in polemics and dismisses such uses due to the fact that the text is not approached in a scholarly manner. Scholars of a more conservative persuasion,...
Cited: Walton, John H.. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document