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Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible, 2nd ed.

ISBN: 9781493418473



Leading evangelical scholar John Walton surveys the cultural context of the ancient Near East, bringing insight to the interpretation of specific Old Testament passages. This new edition of a top-selling textbook has been thoroughly updated and revised throughout to reflect the refined thinking of a mature scholar. It includes over 30 illustrations. Students and pastors who want to deepen their understanding of the Old Testament will find this a helpful and instructive study.

Resource Experts

Key Features

  • Provides an introduction to ancient Near East literature
  • Connects the study of ancient Near East documents to biblical interpretation
  • Helpful for students, scholars, and clergy


Part 1: Comparative Studies

  • History and Methods
  • Comparative Studies, Scholarship, and Theology

Part 2: Literature of the Ancient Near East

  • Summary of the Literature of the Ancient Near East

Part 3: Religion

  • The Gods
  • Temples and Rituals
  • State and Family Religion

Part 4: Cosmos

  • Cosmic Geography
  • Cosmology and Cosmogony

Part 5: People

  • Understanding the Past: Human Origins and Role
  • Understanding the Past: Historiography
  • Encountering the Present: Guidance for Life—Divination and Omens
  • Encountering the Present: Context of Life—Cities and Kingship
  • Encountering the Present: Guidelines for Life—Law and Wisdom
  • Pondering the Future on Earth and after Death

Praise for the Print Edition

This new edition of Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament is a most welcome tool for scholars and students. The first edition was a valuable textbook for use in courses on the Bible and its ancient Near Eastern background, and this second edition enhances its value. Walton introduces a wide range of comparable material between the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East in concepts such as religion, literature, rulers and their cities, and more. The book offers students a clear-cut description of the most important parts of the intellectual life of the ancient world in which Israel was immersed.

—Ada Taggar-Cohen, professor of Bible and ancient Near East, head of the program of Jewish studies, School of Theology, Doshisha University

Anyone seeking a better understanding of how the Hebrew Bible achieved its singular vision of the divine and forged a language that still speaks to many today should welcome this second edition of John Walton’s book. It delivers succinct presentations of major literary achievements among neighboring cultures even as it clarifies the many ways Israel shaped individual meanings and teachings from or against them.

Jack M. Sasson, Vanderbilt University (emeritus)

This is an amazing book. It takes the reader on a tour of the world of the Bible in a way that makes ancient texts come alive. Everything that matters is here, and Walton is the teacher we would all love to have. Unmatched for clarity of thought and power of presentation, this classic introduction to ancient Near Eastern culture is now available in an updated edition.

Karel van der Toorn, University of Amsterdam

Product Details

  • Title: Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible, Second Edition
  • Author: John H. Walton
  • Edition: 2nd Edition
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Pages: 384
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Topic: Bible Backgrounds

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

John H. Walton

Dr. John H. Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, spent 20 years teaching at Moody Bible Institute.

In his college years, he developed a passion for archaeology and Bible history. Instead of training to be an archaeologist, though, he focused his attention on studies comparing the culture and literature of the Bible and the ancient Near East. He has never lost his fascination with this subject, but comparative studies only provide one of the means by which he tries to get people excited about the Old Testament. He’s saddened by how little exposure to and understanding of the Old Testament many Christians have, but he’s passionate in doing whatever he can to remedy this spiritual and theological loss.

For 25 years, Dr. Walton was active at South Park Church in Park Ridge, Illinois—teaching at every level, from adults through preschool. He’s driven by the desire to offer people a greater familiarity with God’s Word and a greater confidence in understanding God’s revelation of himself in its pages. Since moving to Wheaton, he has gotten involved in the same areas of ministry at Glen Ellyn Bible Church.

Whether in teaching or writing, he’s constantly challenged in his own life because the material he’s presenting stretches him as much as it stretches his students and readers. Whatever he’s writing or teaching also has a way of infiltrating his family. His wife, Kim, was trained as a biochemist, which made for interesting dinner conversations—especially when he was working on his Genesis commentary. His three kids have often gotten involved in the discussions, and he’s had fun responding to them and seeing his family grow together.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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