The Naked Bible Podcast
Naked Bible 020: Taking the Bible’s Own Context Seriously, Part 5: Books for ANE and OT Study

We’ve talked in previous episodes about how the best way to understood the original context of the biblical writers is to immerse yourself in the worldview of the civilizations with which the biblical writers had regular contact.  We’ve already spent several episodes on my recommendations for accessing the texts of the ancient Near East and Second Temple period – the intellectual output of the civilizations and cultures that form the original contexts of the Old and New Testaments. In this episode and the next, I want to recommend the best books and reference sources for understanding the religion and culture of the ANE and Second Temple period. Scholars who are steeped in this material have produced many essays explaining the worldview of these civilizations and how that worldview matters for biblical study and interpretation. My goal is to direct you to the best of those resources. As is our pattern, we’ll devote this episode to the ANE, the context for the OT, before moving to the Second Temple period, the context for the NT, in the next episode of the podcast.

Books and Reference Works on Ancient Near Eastern Texts and Worldview

Most Recommended Reference Works for OT Study in Ancient Near Eastern Context

Sasson (ed.), Civilizations of the Ancient Near East/4 Volumes Bound in 2 Books (v. 1 & 2)

Baker (ed.), Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)

digital version

Williamson (ed.), Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)

digital version

Enns (ed.), Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)

Boda (ed.), Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets (IVP Bible Dictionary)

van der Toorn, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Second Edition

digital version


Ancient Near East

History and Culture:

Hoerth, Mattingly, Yamauchi (eds), Peoples of the Old Testament World

White, Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt

von Soden, The Ancient Orient: An Introduction to the Study of the Ancient Near East

Bertman, Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia

Mertz, Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt

Van de Mieroop, A History of Ancient Egypt (Blackwell History of the Ancient World)

Van de Mieroop, A History of the Ancient Near East ca. 3000 – 323 BC [Blackwell History of the Ancient World Ser.]

Ancient Mesopotamian Religion (Sumer, Assyria, Babylon):

Schneider, An Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamian Religion (History of Religion)

Bottero, Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia

Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion

Black, Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary

Ancient Egyptian Religion:

Pinch, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt

Pinch, Egyptian Myth: A Very Short Introduction

Teeter, Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt

Assmann, The Search for God in Ancient Egypt

Old Testament Israel:

The Old Testament Worldview in Ancient Near Eastern Context (General):

Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible

digital version

Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate

Israelite Religion:

Miller, The Religion of Ancient Israel (Library of Ancient Israel)

Smith, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (Biblical Resource Series)

digital version

Hess, Israelite Religions: An Archaeological and Biblical Survey

digital version

Mettinger, In Search of God: The Meaning and Message of the Everlasting Names

Culture and Life in Ancient Israel:

Wells, Everyday Law in Biblical Israel: An Introduction

de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions (Biblical Resource)

Dever, The Lives of Ordinary People in Ancient Israel: When Archaeology and the Bible Intersect

Ebeling, Women’s Lives in Biblical Times

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