Bible and Old Testament

Table of Content

A good deal of the Bible specially the Old Testament can seem unconventional to most readers of today’s world. On the other hand, as people began to comprehend how the ancient people viewed the world, the Old Testament becomes more clearly a book that stands within its ancient context, while also speaking against it. In the introduction John Walton gives a thoughtful introduction to ancient Near Eastern literature, and what the book provides for understanding the world of ancient Israel.

John checked out many different types of literature, and he considered all of the perspectives the literature offered on beliefs about gods, religion, the cosmos, people and history. Walton states that there are “three important roles that comparative studies can play in biblical interpretation: critical analysis, defense of the biblical text, and exegesis (John, ed. )”. John gives an excellent introduction to the field of comparative studies. This book will be an important guide for all those who want to make use of extra biblical resources to develop their understanding of ancient Israel and its Scriptures.

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The book Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament has five parts. Part one of the book introduces Comparative Studies, and this section gives the reader a necessary background needed to study Ancient Near Eastern Thought. Chapter one discusses the history and methods surrounding this study, and the second chapter addresses the differences involving the methods of critical scholars, confession scholars, and the differing thoughts within each of these positions. Part two informs the reader about the Literature of the Ancient Near East.

Part two also summarizes the majority of important Ancient Near Eastern texts that have been characterized as Myths, Literary Texts, Epics, Ritual Texts, and more characterizations. Part two proves incredibly beneficial as a tool for referencing when addressing comparable studies in other areas. The primary topic of part three is religion. Mr. Walton informs the reader about “The Gods” role, origin, and purpose of religious studies in the Ancient near Eastern. The information of the role of the Divine Assembly and the determined ontology of the gods are helpful in chapter four.

The next chapter in the religion section, “Temples and Rituals”, summarizes the issues involved in the sacred spaces and places where worship took place. Part four is a description to the reader of how the ancients viewed the Cosmos. Cosmic Geography, and Cosmology and Cosmogony are the two chapters in part four. In these two chapters John describes the heavens, including the sky; weather, the heavenly waters, the heavenly bodies, the Earth, the sea, and the netherworld. The fifth and last part of the book the author describes the people of the Ancient near Eastern by outlining their view of the past through human origins and historiography.

The last four chapters go into great details the role of divination, laws and societal orders, and different views of eschatology. This paper summarizes the information found in the content of this book. Chapter 1 – Comparative Studies Part One-History and Methods Walton summarizes the comparative study which constitutes a branch of cultural studies in an attempt to draw data from different segments of the broader culture (in time and or space) into combination with one another in order to assess what might be learned from one to enhance the understanding of another” (John , ed. ).

John’s reasoning is that “Bible students need comparative study because the literary genres, religious practices, and cultural dimensions of ancient Israelite theology are all rooted in ancient Near Eastern culture, and “without the guidance of background studies, we are bound to misinterpret the text at some points (John, Ed. )”. John also states “that a comparative study is helpful both for understanding and the background religious practice to which the biblical ideal is contrasted, comparative study will reveal many areas of continuity alongside the noted discontinuity (John, Ed. . What I think what John is letting us know is that the comparison of the Egypt and Mesopotamia artifacts, and the decipherment of the ancient languages, show some legality to the Old Testament claims of culture and religion. He refers to the Babel and Bible lectures by Delizsch and the impact of Assyriology. In chapter one John focuses on the work of Freidrich Delitzsch. Freidrich was a second generation biblical scholar. The reason for such focus is because Mr. Delitzsch believed that the literature of the Bible was borrowed from other sources.

Freidrich’s opinion was that of the most governing culture, and that culture was where the Bible borrowed its literature. The foundation for Freidrich’s opinion is due to the parallels of the Old Testament ideas. His opinion the Old Testament was human and not divine, and that the Christian belief was solely based on pagan mythology than anything else. The opinions in this chapter can be exciting, and as the reader advances in this book the author provides his basis for his thought process. Dr Walton believes that Delitzsch’s is naive in his learning because of his statement the Bible is borrowed literature.

Because of Delitzsch’s lectures on this subject a movement known as the Pan-Babylonianism took place. This movement was caused because he believed that the Bible was based solely on Babylonian mythology. Comparative studies gathers data from many different segments and cultures with an idea to learn from one culture while attempting to better understand another culture. The Author of Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament writes about a need for effective communication. Therefore Mr. Walton needs to have a group or body that agrees on the words terms and ideas. Communication is the driving force behind comparative study.

Individuals who study the ancient text cannot make the words in the text mean what they want them to mean. Several principles must be well thought-out when doing comparative studies. Similarities and differences need to be taken into thought when studying. Chapter one-Comparative Studies Part Two – Comparative Studies, Scholarship, and Theology The idea of comparative studies in both scholarly and confessional environments will seek to work out a union of the comparative study. John thoroughly examines the publication of Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Ordinarily, religious theorists (Christians) have denounced Darwin’s theory.

Nevertheless, Walton does suggest that most of the biblical scholarship did conform to evolutionary theory. On the other hand, John contends that “These evolutionary theories had been birthed in an environment where theorizing led to models and hypotheses – but one in which those ideas could not be tested against empirical data” (John , ed. ). With the “discovery” of the ancient Near East, the decipherment of its languages, and the publication of many of its texts, “the spate of primary source material allowed for the reigning theories to be placed under the microscope” (John , ed. . Walton suggests in his writing that theorist have been pinned against each other. Critical Scholarship in the nineteenth century was quite an exceptional study because it was driven by the winds of evolution. According to John three challenges exists in Critical Scholarships, and one of those challenges came against the literary criticism as the division of biblical texts. The division was between various sources and was questioned by suggested relationship between biblical and ancient Near Easter texts.

Another challenge was the critical establishment of providing evidence of certain cultural developments that was thought to have come later, but may in fact came earlier. Scholars that only use the biblical text simply as the literary output of an ancient culture, are examples of those critical scholars that do not use comparative study. Another method used in comparative study is called Confessional Scholarship. This level of comparative study can cause a critical agenda of many problems, and in many cases they find themselves time and again having to defend their position.

Just as critical scholarship, confessional scholarship has challenges as well. John describes three different roles of comparative study, critical analysis, defense of the biblical text and the exegesis of the biblical text. All the different roles have the ability to be conducted very well, and also the ability to be conducted very poorly. Critical analysis is used to provide a wide range of information by which a student can understand in greater ways the history and the literature of the biblical world. Defense of the biblical text identifies the importance of a careful balanced approach to the data that emerges from cultural studies.

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