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Ancient Near Eastern Context
One of the most important things to consider when reading the OT/HB is its ancient Near Eastern context. The OT was written over two thousand years ago by people who lived in a very different world than we do. It is essential that we have some grasp of this ancient context in order to prevent us from reading our modern presuppositions and ideas into the ancient text that is the OT/HB.

There are a number of resources to help us understand the ancient context of the Scriptures. First and foremost it is important that we are well-read in the literature of the ancient Near East:

  • BHSWilliam W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger, eds., The Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions, Monumental Inscriptions and Archival Documents from the Biblical World (3 volume set; Brill, 2004). A detailed reference work for the study of the OT/HB and the ancient Near East, this book provides reliable access to ancient Near Eastern texts that have some bearing on the interpretation of the Bible. Translation of recently discovered texts is included, alongside new translations of better-known texts. The recognized replacement of Pritchard's ANET. Buy from | Buy from
  • James Bennett Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament with Supplement (3rd edition; Princeton University Press, 1969). This is the classic collection of ancient texts that shed light on the OT/HB. Dated, though still highly recommended. Buy from | Buy from
  • Bill T. Arnold and Bryan Beyer, Readings from the Ancient Near East: Primary Sources for Old Testament Study (Encountering Biblical Studies; Baker, 2002). A college-level collection of excerpts (with introductions) of the most relevant ancient texts; written by a couple evangelical scholars. Buy from | Buy from
  • Victor H. Matthews and Don C. Benjamin, Old Testament Parallels (Fully Expanded and Revised; Paulist Press, 1997). An accessible college-level collection of ancient Near Eastern texts relating to the OT. Buy from | Buy from
There are also a number of good introductions to the history, culture, and theology of the ancient Near East:
  • BHSJack M. Sasson, ed., Civilizations of the Ancient Near East (2 vols.; reprint edition; Hendrickson, 2001). This is an excellent resource for the civilizations of Egypt, Syro-Palestine, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Arabian Peninsula, northeast Africa, and Aegean cultures such as Troy, Crete, and Rhodes. Highly recommended. Buy from | Buy from
  • William W. Hallo and William K. Simpson, The Ancient Near East: A History (2nd edition; Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1997). A solid introduction. Buy from | Buy from
  • William H. Stiebing, Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture (Longman, 2002). A recent thorough introduction. Buy from | Buy from Amazon.comBHS
  • Wolfram Von Soden, The Ancient Orient: An Introduction to the Study of the Ancient Near East (Donald G. Schley, translator; Eerdmans, 1994). This is a very good introduction by the noted Assyriologist. Buy from | Buy from


Last Updated on Friday, 08 May 2009 09:46