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Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East


Prophecy was a widespread phenomenon, not only in ancient Israel but in the ancient Near East as a whole. This is the first book to gather the available ancient Near Eastern, extrabiblical sources containing prophetic words or references to prophetic activities. Among the 140 texts included in this volume are oracles of prophets, personal letters, formal inscriptions, and administrative documents from ancient Mesopotamia and Levant from the second and first millennia BCE. Most of the texts come from Mari (eighteenth century BCE) and Assyria (seventh century BCE). In addition, new translations of the relevant section of the Egyptian Report of Wenamon are provided by Robert K. Ritner, and C. L. Seow offers various texts from Syria-Palestine containing allusions to prophets and prophetic activities.

By collecting and presenting evidence of the activities of prophets and the phenomenon of prophecy from all over the ancient Near East, the volume illumines the cultural background of biblical prophecy and its parallels. Scholars of the history, religions, and cultural traditions of the ancient Near East are given important information about different types and forms of transmission of divine words. These valuable primary source materials are made accessible in contemporary English, along with transcriptions of the original languages, indexes, and an extensive bibliography.

  • Title: Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East
  • Author: Martti Nissinen, with C. L. Seow and Robert K. Ritner
  • Publisher: Society of Biblical Literature
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Pages: 296
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Martti Nissinen is Senior Researcher at the Academy of Finland and is Professor of Old Testament Studies at the University of Helsinki.

C. L. Seow is Henry Snyder Gehman Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author of A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew and a commentary on Daniel.

Robert Ritner is Associate Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. in 1987. His field of study and interest is Egyptian religion, magic, medicine and social history, and Libyan cultural interactions. He is the author of The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice and over 100 publications.