Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament by John H. Walton, Book Review Example
Words: 2760Book Review
About the Author
Being a long time professor at Wheaton College, John Walton is noted for his capability of making practical implications about the background of a particular reading, which is specifically directed towards proving that the Bible is indeed true. Amidst all the different contradictions that are occurring around the world today with regards the value of trust that could be put upon the trueness of the Bible, Walton remains strongly convinced that it is indeed the word of God and several evidences from history proves its reliability.
To further improve his understanding of the Bible, Walton pursued a PhD in the Hebrew Union College and is now teaching Old Testament subjects at Wheaton College. Along with the series of different readings regarding the assumption of the old testament being true and reliable up to the current years of human living is the book entitled Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament.
About the Book
Walton’s writing on the Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament is considered as a serious presentation of facts that supports the idea of the events and the people of the bible being true and thus presenting the book as rather reliable. Relatively, Walton, the author, understands that it is quite hard for members of the modern society to comprehend well with what the Old Testament conveys especially that the new testament has become a very popular read among religious groups. Notably, this reading creates a connective indication allowing individuals who may not have an inkling towards recognizing the course of definition that the old testament follows to understand what the first section of the bible actually portrays for their better sense of living.
To make it easier for readers to understand what the verses and books of the old testament presents, it was necessary for Walton to relate the old testament and the events as well as the people written within its pages to the historical notes that proves their existence and the fact that the events actually happened. Utilizing the cross-referencing approach and the chronological assessment of situations and events, the reading produced by Walton indeed proves to be a great help for those who want to understand the old testament fully.
To be able to establish the factual basis of the written events and mentioned people in the Bible, Walton tried to research on the ancient near east literature that proves the said elements in history. Through putting sidebars in the pages of the book, Walton helps his readers to see how the history intends to prove the occurrences that are written in the bible. He also makes sure that the studies he used as references would provide a strong indication on how a variety of interpolation on events and people would actually make a great indication on the capacity of the bible to provide dependable information that could be used for practical conditions of thinking. It could be realized that through this approach, Walton made sure that his readers would be properly guided in the course of hoping to understand the gist of the Old Testament and how it applies to their overall knowledge about the message of the Bible.
Chapter Division and Summary
Overall, Walton utilizes five particularly focused parts that would serve as the head of discussions while subdividing each part accordingly. Overall, the book is divided into fourteen chapters that are dedicated to specific topics that correspond to the desire of initiating a better understanding of what the Bible presents based on the evidences provided through the ancient near eastern literature researched upon.
Part 1: Comparative Studies
This section provides a distinctive approach in proving that the studies and literatures written in the ancient near east prove the existence of people and the occurrence of situations noted in the bible through the Old Testament. Divided into two subheadings, this section hopes to introduce the readers into the overall approach used by the author in proving that the bible is both true and reliable.
Chapter 1: History and Methods
Among the literary sources examined by the Walton in this section, include the Acadian and the Hittite written history. Through the discussion he presented, he imposed that these ancient literature provide an insight to what the bible intends to share. In this section, Walton tries to create a picture of reality based on what has been written in the past and what researchers have further proven regarding the accuracy of the information noted in the literary creations examined.
Chapter 2: Comparative Studies, Scholarship and Theology
Considering that critical readers see ancient written literature to be affected by both culture, tradition and pagan belief, Walton uses outside scholarly references to support his presentation. It is through this approach that he hopes to instill into his readers the real value of the bible based on the manner by which it has been presented by its own writers. The supposed writers of each book [mostly the Hebrews] are also proven to have existed in the past through researching on documents that prove their stand in the society during their own times. While skeptic individuals view Moses, Jacob and other well-known individuals in the bible to be somewhat mythical, the references used by Walton in this discussion proves otherwise.
Part 2: Literature of the Ancient Near East
This section intends to describe the elements that make up the literature of the Ancient Near East. Walton tries to create a clear picture that provides a distinctive indication on what the literature characterizing this particular region specifically makes it unique and reliable as a source of defining the timeline and the occurrences the proves the record of the Bible. With the distinction of good reference to modern studies, cross-relating the ancient near east literature with modern findings about the region is believed by Walton as another proof of the bible’s accurate reliability.
Chapter 3: Summary of the Literature of the Ancient Near East
For this chapter, Walton picks several popular and non-popular ancient near east literature and utilizes the information they have as the basis of his investigation. Through summarizing the ideas they share, Walton creates a comparison on how modern literature and the literature of the olden times actually assume a source of distinction as they correlatively prove the events and the people considered in the Bible to be real. Trying to establish his arguments, Walton works around the literary sources he used as references to find supporting passages that would bring about a sense of definition on the different sectors of the bible.
Part 3: Religion
This part concentrates on providing a relative source of definition on what religion is and how the historical record on the development of religion in the ancient near east does create a connection on how the religion supported in the Bible could be proven to have existed. The existence of records on rituals and traditions that were considered to as a source of social foundation in the past has been used in this section as a conditional presentation of evidence on the fact that the bible’s description of ancient religions and the people supporting them could be validated accordingly.
Chapter 4: The Gods
Recognizing the deities and the ‘gods’ of the ancient times leads to the distinction on how pagan religion has developed. The emergence of a supposedly different course of Christianity even before the existence of Christ was further given definition by Walton in this section of the reading. Sourcing out his explanations from the proofs that imposes on the condition of thinking and belief of the people, Walton tries to take his readers into a journey that creates a chronological presentation on showing how the Israelites became notably recognizable and how the supposed ‘miracles’ related to their existence proves the reports recorded in the bible.
Chapter 5: Temples and Rituals
Bringing about a realization on the proof through architectural finds, this section utilizes researches, and distinctive archeological reports that further instantiates the existence of places like Sodom and Gomora. Walton tries to investigate how translating the pages of the bible has changed the descriptions of the places and the events written in the bible and yet does not alter ay factual element that proves their reality.
Chapter 6: State and Family Religion
Family herein is considered by Walton as a strong source of indication how the people decided to live their lives. Based on the distinct descriptions used in the ancient literature, the biblical record is supported herein through noting the familial connection of the people presented in the old testament or the Hebrew Scriptures. The social state that further indicates the existence of central faith in the past initiates the realization over the culture of the people and the fact that they do accept the existence of a supreme being.
Part 4: Cosmos
Humans are one with the nature. The creation of the world and the notable history of the beginning of humans at the time when Adam and Eve were created is often regarded by Science as somewhat vague. Nevertheless, through this discussion, Walton proves that the point of creation as recorded and discussed in the bible does coincide with the history of cosmos as defined by science.
Chapter 7: Cosmic Geography
In this chapter, Walton tries to outline the history as defined by cosmic geography. It is often contested how God merely utilized six days to create the world and the universe as well. Notably though, it could be analyzed that to explain such an idea, Walton used several verses across the record of the bible, both in the old and the new testament, to show that the six days do not account for the ordinary six days for humans. Instead, when the six days recorded in the bible would be understood according to God’s timeline, then the assessment of cosmic geography and the record of creation could be realized to support each other’s data.
Chapter 8: Cosmology and Cosmogony
Supporting the data presented in the seventh chapter, this chapter tries to create a connection between creation, cosmology and cosmogony alike. Insisting on the disdain definition of the existence of the universe based on scientific theories such as that of big bang theory, Walton tries to bring about a sense of recognition in connection with the kind of evidence that science itself provides in relation to how accurate the record of creation is. Herein, he tries to create a comparison between the bible’s account of creation and the theoretical explanations provided through cosmologic studies.
Part 5: People
People are the most important elements of evidence that proves the usability, practicality and the factual value of the records found in the bible. In this section, Walton follows the history of humans and utilizes the definition of their behavior to further improve the manner by which the bible is able to define humans and their development in an accurate approach to defining the events that occurred then.
Chapter 9: Understanding the Past: Human Origins and Role
What makes the bible often contested by scholars is its reliance on the occurrence of creation that somehow is found by science to be somewhat baseless. Considerably, such condition of thinking is hardly accepted by science and yet Walton was able to use the exact details of creation to correlate its definition with scientific explanations of human life and the historical records of human existence.
Chapter 10: Understanding the Past Historiography
The history of humans found on the records of the literature of the ancient near east gives a strong evidence that people in the bible indeed existed. The description of their life and the living conditions in the said literary choices have been found rather effective in the course of proving the correlation it has with the history of the human individuals as recorded by historians in the said area.
Chapter 11: Encountering the Present-Guidance for Life [Divination and Omens]
When it comes to discussing human elements in the pages of history, it is essential to understand their beliefs, religious affiliations and their connection with a supreme being. Notably, it could be realized in this discussion by Walton that divination and omens were indeed a part of the culture of the people living in the ancient near east. In addition, the condition by which they believe in such conditions of thinking further proves the bible’s relative definition on how religion and the belief of gods came to be existent in the past.
Chapter 12: Encountering the Present-Context of Life [Cities and Kingship]
This chapter provides a distinction on how cities and kingship actually provide a proper presentation on how the past reflects the present context of living. Through making a distinctive condition of defining the development of cities and governance, this chapter provides a clear indication on how the biblical record on human behavior regarding politics and social development insists on how the said records are indeed supported by facts from history.
Chapter 13: Encountering the Present-Guidelines for Life [Law and Wisdom]
The bible is practical for application even that of the old testament. This section tries to convince readers that the biblical principles and laws when applied today would have a great impact on the lives of people, which they would be able to benefit from. At this point the literature from the ancient near east collected by Walton through research are used as supporting references to the said indication of bible’s practicality.
Chapter 14: Pondering the Future on Earth and After Death
Correlating the beliefs of the people on death and after death, this chapter tries to initiate a connection between culture, religion and the traditions that manifest a great indication on the proof of how humans try to react on what the bible presents.
Reflection and Learning Points
Overall, this reading reference provides a good source of developmental thinking relating to the way one understands the importance and the accuracy of the bible relating to human history, science and archeology. Utilizing ancient literature as a basis for such investigation makes Walton’s writing supported by valid references that provide a gist into the discussion that the author further wants to present to his readers. Overall, this material gives the readers a strong understanding on how to define the bible’s worth based on how it is able to make a distinctive impact on how humans view the bible as well as its value to their lives at present. While some disregard the importance of the old testament, this reading reassures readers that the said part of the bible provides beneficial teachings that could help humans live better lives at present more than what they have expected. The overall presentation of Walton could be considered reliable and viable in making a distinctive impact on the thinking of his readers.
The Bible in itself is considered as one of the most critiqued readings around the world. People, having less belief on religion has also lost hope and trust in the said reading material. This is the reason why when individuals such as John Walton try to prove its reality, they have to find strong references that would help the readers understand their argumentation and be convinced that the bible itself is based on facts. In the reading on the ancient near east literature proving the facts about written in the old testament, it was rather proven by Walton that the said section of the Bible is reliable based on history, archeology and the records of science.
The most crucial points of belief that puts the Old Testament into questioning is that of the aspect of creation and its reliability based on scientific evidences. In his writing Walton utilizes scientific facts considered in the literary sources he used to impose the reality of creation and argue on its being reliable compared to the theories of science. Another issue tackled herein is the importance of the Old Testament as a vital part of the bible. In this writing, Walton imposes that even though considered ‘old’, the details and records written in this particular section of the bible remains valuable especially in directing humans towards the most rewarding ways of living. Focusing on the most controversial points of belief regarding the bible and the validity and reliability of the Old Testament, Walton’s writing makes a distinctive approach in proving the value of the Old Testament even to the lives of the modern world. His command in the topic makes the entire reading both convincing and easy to understand especially for those hoping to gain a better insight on what the Old Testament is really about.
Walton, J. H. (2006). Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible. Baker Academic Publishing.
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