Lecture 2 - The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Biblical Religion in Context

author: Christine Hayes, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University
published: Feb. 16, 2011,   recorded: September 2006,   views: 9089

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In this lecture, the Hebrew Bible is understood against the background of Ancient Near Eastern culture. Drawing from and critiquing the work of Yehezkel Kaufmann, the lecture compares the religion of the Hebrew Bible with the cultures of the Ancient Near East. Two models of development are discussed: an evolutionary model of development in which the Hebrew Bible is continuous with Ancient Near Eastern culture and a revolutionary model of development in which the Israelite religion is radically discontinuous with Ancient Near Eastern culture. At stake in this debate is whether the religion of the Hebrew Bible is really the religion of ancient Israel.

Reading assignment:

Bible: Introduction to Genesis (JSB pp. 8-11); Gen 1-4

Pritchard, James, ed. "The Deluge," "The Creation Epic," and "The Epic of Gilgamesh." In The Ancient Near East, Volume 1. pp. 28-75

Kaufmann, Yehezkel. The Religion of Israel. New York: Schocken, 1972. pp. 21-121

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