Chapter 2 Summary - The Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Civilization

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Published on 19 Jan 2012
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Chapter 2: The Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Civilization
(Pages 9-13)
The Bible reflects various aspects of Mesopotamian culture
Physical structure of the universe outlined in Genesis parallels what is found in Near
Eastern literature
The God of Israel is conceived anthropomorphically
Israelites accepted magical procedures
Israelites recognized the power of blessings and curses
Israelites believed that God's will can be known through dreams, dice and oracles
Holy men, kinds, and priests were revered
Preoccupation with ritual uncleanliness, purity, and priestly rites
Strong parallels between Hebrew Bible and literature of the ancient Near East
Genesis borrows details from Epic of Gilgamesh with legend of the flood
Biblical law bears resemblance to ancient legal codes
Assyrian treaties between a king and his vassals
Covenental relationship between God and Israel
Israelite monotheism transformed mythological features
Themes retained in the Bible are only briefly mentioned
Such as marriage of divine beings with women
Biblical heroes not worshipped
Underworld not a subject for speculation
Cult is free of rites to placate ghosts and demons
No ancestor worship
Divination is forbidden
Divination such as investigating livers of sacrificial animals
Biblical narratives are simplified and demythologized
No myths of birth of gods, their rivalries, sexual relations, or accounts of death and
resurrection
No mention of fate which both men and gods are subject to
Hebrew Bible concentrates on moral condition of humankind within the context of divine
providence
Demythologization is particular feature of Biblical narratives
Priestly editors composed creation account different from Babylonian narratives
Echoes of mythology in Bible
Genesis decrees that God created the universe without any struggle against other gods
Bible ignores details like gods' terror at flood
Epic of Gilgamesh flood sees as the god Enlil's remedy to reduce the level of human noise in
the world
Bible proclaims that man's wickedness if its cause
when flood comes, god gives laws to restrain future human evil and promises that this
devastation will never happen again

Document Summary

Chapter 2: the bible and ancient near eastern civilization (pages 9-13) The bible reflects various aspects of mesopotamian culture. Physical structure of the universe outlined in genesis parallels what is found in near. The god of israel is conceived anthropomorphically. Israelites recognized the power of blessings and curses. Israelites believed that god"s will can be known through dreams, dice and oracles. Holy men, kinds, and priests were revered. Preoccupation with ritual uncleanliness, purity, and priestly rites. Strong parallels between hebrew bible and literature of the ancient near east. Genesis borrows details from epic of gilgamesh with legend of the flood. Biblical law bears resemblance to ancient legal codes. Assyrian treaties between a king and his vassals. Themes retained in the bible are only briefly mentioned. Such as marriage of divine beings with women. Cult is free of rites to placate ghosts and demons. Divination such as investigating livers of sacrificial animals.