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Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible: A Guide to the Background Literature
Sparks, Kenton L.

Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2005 pp. xxxvii + 514. $39.95



Description: The Hebrew Bible represents no mere collection of books but a stunning array of literary genres. To fully illuminate the history and culture of the Old Testament, it is necessary to compare these ancient writings to similar texts written concurrently by Israel’s neighbors. Beginning with an overview of the important literary archives of the ancient Near East, Sparks provides exhaustive references to the ancient literary counterparts to the Hebrew Bible’s major genres. Surveying the ancient writings found throughout Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Palestine, Sparks provides a brief summary of each text discussed, translating brief portions and linking them to literarily similar biblical passages. Exploring over 30 genres—wisdom, hymns, love poetry, rituals, prophecy, apocalyptic, novella, epic legend, myth, genealogy, history, law, treaty, epigraphic materials, and others—it offers an exemplary guide to the fertile literary environment from which the canonical writings sprung. Rich with bibliographic material, this invaluable catalog enables the reader to locate not only the published texts in their original ancient languages but to find suitable English translations and commentary bearing on these ancient texts. A number of helpful indexes round out this outstanding resource. Providing students with a thorough introduction to the literature of the ancient Near East—and time-pressed scholars with an admirably up-to-date research tool—it will become a syllabus standard for a myriad of courses.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Ancient Near East, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Ancient Near Eastern History, History of Israel, Persian Period

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Review by John L. Mclaughlin
Published 3/17/2007
Citation: John L. Mclaughlin, review of Kenton L. Sparks, Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible: A Guide to the Background Literature, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2007).


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