Monday, December 07, 2009


Thank the gods!

Last homework assignment for Intro to Hebrew Bible!

It's all over but the 4-hour final! Woo hoo!

Victor H. Matthews and Don C. Benjamin, Old Testament Parallels, 319-340.

Group: Blue

I. Vital Statistics for Texts (titles, dates, places)
Egyptian love songs, 1290-1224 BCE, in rooms that Ramesses II added to the Karnak Temple, excavated in early 20th century near the present city of Luxor in Egypt.
Stories of Ishtar and Tammuz, 700s-600s BCE, palace of Sennacherib and library of Ashurbanipal, in Nimrud. Assyria, excavated in 1845, near present Mosul, Iraq.
Visions of Neferti, composed 1991-1962 BCE, setting 2500s-2100s and 1900s-1700s, BCE.

II. Summary of Content, with relevant examples
Egyptian love songs: “The songs are full of images of touching, tasting, smelling, hearing, and seeing. … Even though Egypt’s love songs may be a thousand years older than those in the Song of Songs, the parallels are unmistakable (321).” Provocative, sensual language: “My cup is still not full from making love with you … I will not stop drinking your love, even if they beat me with sticks into the marsh … I will not abandon the one I desire.”
Stories of Ishtar and Tammuz: Ishtar, fertility goddess, and Tammuz, god of vegetation, are lovers separated by death but reunited by love. Tammuz descends, by stages, to the land of death to mark the long dry season, and Ishtar faithfully goes to rescue him and “the tears of Ishtar in the land of the dead bring Tammuz back to life (330).” Prophetic language: “When Ishtar reached the gate of the Land of No Return, she challenged the gatekeeper, saying, ‘Open your gate so I may enter! If you fail to do this, I will smash the door. I will shatter the bolt … I will cause the dead to rise and consume the living. The dead will outnumber the living!’ ”
Visions of Neferti: Prophecies of monarchical downfalls and risings: “But a new pharaoh will come from the south, Amenenhet the Triumphant will be his name. A son of southern Egypt will wear the white crown, a son of Nubia will wear the red crown. He will unite the two lands of Egypt …”

III. Significance of Texts for Biblical Studies
Parallels to Song of Solomon, Esther and Ruth; the biblical prophets; and the biblical wisdom books.


Lucky you. I've still got an hourly exam to proctor and grade this evening (for 1400 students), a final to write, and then also proctor and grade that. Oy. (Fortunately I've got some indentured servants ... er ... Grad Students to help.
La, la la la, ... OTOH, this Hebrew Bible ain't no piece of cake! Eeeep!
Better you than me. I'll take organic chemistry over trying to learn a new language any day. I've hardly even mastered one language. :)
One observation, these of course are considered "parallels" to the Old Testament when in fact they precede the Old Testament. The Old Testament in fact is the one paralleling the other texts.

It is only by shifting the frame of reference that you really understand what the parallels mean.

As an example when you examine the story of Joseph and Jacob/Israel from the Egyptian perspective rather than from a uniquely OT perspective then the stories of Genesis and Exodus make a whole lot more sense because they become part of a larger context.

To experience some of this insight, I seriously recommend the illustrated version of "Genesis" by R. Crumb. Crumb by illustrating each and every verse into a historically accurate picture, focuses both sides of your mind onto the place and context of the event happening. It is very enlightening.
That's made very clear in this book. Very cool book.

'Member where I'm studying. The place teaches it right, until it hurts.
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