The Hebrew Bible represents no mere collection of books but a stunning array of literary genres. To fully light up the history and culture of the Old Testament, it is vital to compare these ancient writings to similar texts written at the same time as 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 all over Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Palestine, Sparks provides a brief summary of each and every text discussed, translating brief portions and linking them to literarily similar biblical passages. Exploring over thirty 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. Wealthy 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 statement bearing on these ancient texts. Quite a few 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’ll transform a syllabus standard for a myriad of courses.
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