The Context of Scripture (from the Publisher)
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Canonical Compositions, Monumental Inscriptions, and Archival Documents from the Biblical World

• General Editor: William W. Hallo
• Associate Editor: K. Lawson Younger, Jr.
• Publisher: Brill

The importance of context for exegesis of the biblical texts cannot be overemphasized. The Context of Scripture, which gathers an up-to-date body of ancient Egyptian, Hittite, West Semitic, Akkadian, and Sumerian texts in translation with valuable introductory essays and annotation, is therefore a veritable gold mine for serious Bible students. It provides both scholars and laypersons access to the most important textual sources for setting the Hebrew scriptures in their wider Near Eastern cultural, literary, linguistic, historical, and theological setting. This resource (the oversized three-volume set spans a combined 1500 pages and weighs in at nearly 10 lbs for the paperback edition!) is now available in its most useful incarnation ever as an Accordance tool, permitting simple and powerful searches on a variety of fields in conjunction with the Bible.

Example of a Scripture search to find related texts (click the image to see it at full size).



Example of a Ugaritic text with a footnote (click the image to see it at full size)



From the Publisher:

The Context of Scripture illuminatingly presents the multi-faceted world of ancient writing that forms the colorful background to the literature of the Hebrew Bible. Designed as a thorough and durable reference work for all engaged in the study of the Bible and the ancient Near East, and involving 63 of the world's outstanding scholars in the field, it provides reliable access to a broad, balanced and representative collection of Ancient Near Eastern texts that have some bearing on the interpretation of the Bible. Translations of recently discovered texts are included, alongside new translations of better-known texts and in some cases the best existing translations of such texts.

The "first half of history" covers the interval between the invention of writing in Sumer and the floruit of classical Greece. During these two and a half millennia (ca. 3000-500 BCE), the Near East is the primary locus of written documentation, and thus the place where the emergence of humanity's achievements can be followed in detail. Two centuries of persistent exploration of the Near East have led to the recovery of much of this documentation, and the recovery continues at an unabated pace. The discoveries made in the field, and their interpretation in the scholarly literature, are brought to the attention of a wide public in three volumes, prepared by leading scholars in all the principal language areas of the ancient Near East.

The first volume to be published, Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World, is devoted to "literary" texts - those responses to the world about them by which the creative minds of antiquity sought to come to terms with their environment, real or imaginary. The second volume, Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World, emphasizes "historical" texts: the monuments in which the rulers attempted to memorialize their achievements and lesser mortals expressed their loyalty or piety. The third volume, Archival Documents from the Biblical World, incorporates "economic" texts - the unassuming records of daily life which nonetheless go far toward permitting the reconstruction of social, legal and commercial institutions that concerned the majority of humanity.

All these canons, monuments and documents provide the context in which Biblical literature flowered. They have therefore been selected in part to illuminate the comparisons or contrasts with specific Biblical passages that have been identified in the scholarly literature. These passages are identified in each selection, and in the extensive bibliography provided. Other selections have been made to illustrate the range of the ancient documentation, or to highlight new discoveries.

This authoritative three-volume reference work is an invaluable research tool and essential reading for all those engaged in the study of the Hebrew Bible in its ancient Near Eastern context. Its many distinct advantages over other collections will ensure the place of The Context of Scripture as a standard reference work for the 21st century.

Volume 1 Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World
Editor: William W. Hallo
Associate Editor: K.L. Younger
Consultants: Harry A. Hoffner, Jr. and Robert K. Ritner
Publication year: 1997

Volume 1 includes the literature which was intended to be preserved and passed on to posterity by the Egyptian, Hittite, West Semitic, Akkadian, and Sumerian scribal schools. The texts are arranged according to their Divine, Royal, or Individual Focus.

Volume 2 Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World
Editor: William W. Hallo
Associate Editor: K.L. Younger
Publication year: 2000

Volume 2 is devoted to building and votive inscriptions, seals, weights, treaties, collections of laws, and other genres originally inscribed on durable mediums or in multiple copies for long-term survival. Many are royal inscriptions, and nearly all are crucial to the reconstruction of the history of the Biblical world.

Volume 3 Archival Documents from the Biblical World
Editor: William W. Hallo
Associate Editor: K.L. Younger
Publication year: 2002

Volume 3, Archival Documents from the Biblical World, provides a generous selection from the vast number of legal, commercial and private documents preserved from pre-classical antiquity. These courtcases, contracts, accounts and letters, so often slighted or underrepresented in older anthologies, throw a bright light on the daily life of ordinary human beings as recorded by their contemporaries.

"Now that it is complete, this major publication project will clearly replace James B. Pritchard's long-standard Ancient Near Eastern Texts. The three volumes of The Context of Scripture offer improved renderings of familiar texts, introduce more recently published texts to a wider audience, and shed new light on the Bible by means of detailed introductions and copious annotations. Yet one can happily read the texts without ever consulting the footnotes. The Context of Scripture will no doubt stimulate the reading of the Bible in its ancient context, resulting in a better understanding of what Israel shared with her Near Eastern neighbors, and how she differed from them."
Alan Millard, Biblical Archaeology Review, 2004.

Full length reviews:

  • Context of Scripture, The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Mar 2004 by Howard, David M Jr
  • Gary N. Knoppers, review of William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger, eds., The Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World, Review of Biblical Literature

The Context of Scripture (bundle of all 3 volumes) is available now with Accordance for only $199. Please click here to order.

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