One of the difficulties faced by every seminary/grad school student, pastor, and self-proclaimed Bible geek is the question of how large to grow our personal library. This is a question I’ve been reflecting on now for over a decade and a half and each year my library continues to grow. As the shelves in my office fill up and sometimes overflow, the idea of adding certain resources into my collection electronically continues to become a more and more appealing option.
Now when it comes to deciding which platform is best for expanding your library electronically, you’ll quickly discover that your fellow Bible geek friends have opinions that run as deep as the age old battles of Ford versus Chevy and PC versus Mac. Personally, I use Bible software from all three of the main vendors in this space and when it comes to the largest number of titles available and support for the largest number of desktop and mobile platforms, LOGOS Bible Software has been the standout leader for many years.
In the course of getting ready for this review I finally made the leap from LOGOS version 4 to version 5. Other than a brief time commitment for completing the download and installing the upgrade, the whole process was very simple and came off without a hitch. If you’re still on an earlier version of the LOGOS engine, you may want to consider updating to the latest version, which is freely available for download here: LINK. LOGOS 5 has some significant feature enhancements, but the most noticeable for me was the improved speed of search, which is something I know many of my fellow LOGOS users and I are always looking for in every upgrade and update.
When LOGOS contacted me about reviewing the Eisenbrauns Old Testament Studies Collection, I jumped at the chance. I’m a bit of an Old Testament and ANE studies geek, so this collection is right up my alley. The Eisenbrauns Old Testament Studies Collection is comprised of three volumes. They are:
- Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology by John H. Walton
- Sacred Time, Sacred Place: Archaeology and the Religion of Israel edited by Barry M. Gittlen
- Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text by Jens Bruun Kofoed
Let me take a few moments to briefly comment on each volume.
If you’re at all familiar with the work of John H. Walton, you’ve not doubt followed the progression of his work on Ancient Near Eastern thought. My first exposure to his work in this area was The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (IVP Academic, 2009) and later Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible (Baker Academic, 2006). Both of these books were immensely helpful in whetting my appetite for ANE studies and I highly recommend each of them.
If like me you’ve read one or both of the previously mentioned volumes, then picking up a copy of Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology is a bit of a no brainer. The first half of the book is devoted to the ANE texts that are key to informing our understanding regarding the way ANE peoples thought about cosmology. A range of texts are covered, including Akkadian, Egyptian, Hittite, Sumerian, and Ugaritic. Walton strives to demonstrate “that ancient Near Eastern literature is concerned primarily with order and control of functions of the world that exists rather than with speculations about how the material world that exists came into being.” (Walton, p. 8). In the second half of the book, Walton offers an analysis of Genesis 1:1-2:4, seeking to show that the “Genesis account pertains to functional origins rather than material origins and that temple ideology underlies the Genesis cosmology.” (Walton, p. 198-199).
If you’re serious about Ancient cosmology and the origins debate, Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology is a must have addition to your library.
Sacred Time, Sacred Place offers twelve scholarly papers from the American Schools of Oriental Research. The papers are organized into four sections. They are:
- Charting The Course: The Relationship Between Text and Artifact
- Prayers in Clay: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Figurines
- The Mythology of Sacred Space: Structures and Structuralism
- Death in the Life of Israel
The articles I especially appreciated were Theology, Philology, and Archaeology: In the Pursuit of Ancient Israelite Religion by William G. Dever and Philology and Archaeology: Imagining New Questions, Begetting New Ideas by Ziony Zevit. My interest was largely due to the fact that I’m a bit of a philology nerd.
Overall, this volume offers good food for thought on how we can better understand the Israelite religion through the study of both archaeological and textual data.
Text and History is a revision of Kofoed’s Ph.D. thesis. His goals and intent for the book is summarized best in the following paragraph found in chapter one:
“The thesis of the present study is that the texts of the Hebrew Bible contain much more reliable information than the above-mentioned “skeptics” claim—not only for the period of the extant text (i.e., the oldest known [unvocalized] Hebrew or Greek manuscripts) but also for the period it purports to describe—and, consequently, that it must be included in rather than excluded from the pool of reliable data for a reconstruction of the origin and history of ancient Israel. After an introductory survey of important and relevant developments within general historical theory, I will seek to pin down the key problems related to the use or nonuse of the texts of the Hebrew Bible as historical sources and subsequently discuss the possible criteria for determining the epistemological and historiographical value of the texts.” (Kofoed, p. 4-5).
I feel strongly that the Eisenbrauns Old Testament Studies Collection will go a long way in helping me to round out the Old Testament resources in my growing digital library. I anticipate turning to Walton’s book often in my ANE reading and research. Gittlen and Kofoed’s volumes are a bit more academic than many of the resources I’ve had to date and I think they’re going to be useful for diving into broader Old Testament studies and related disciplines. As I consider the range of topics covered across these three books, I’m excited to have them available in a digital, searchable format, because it will allow me to more easily incorporate each of these resources into my Old Testament Studies.
At the time of this review, purchasing the Eisenbrauns Old Testament Studies Collection for LOGOS Bible Software will save you $31.55 off the print price. All things considered, this collection offers three great Old Testament resources at a reasonable price. My overall rating for this collection is 5 out of 5 stars.
This product was provided by LOGOS Bible Software for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.