Hidden Riches: A Sourcebook for the Comparative Study of the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. By Christopher B. Hays. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-66423701-1. xxvi and 425 pages. Paper. $45.
Serious readers of the Old Testament have long used compendia of Ancient Near Eastern writings, such as ANET and COS, to learn more about the Bible's world and culture. In general, however, those collections leave readers on their own to figure things out, often a daunting task.
Hays presents modern translations of a smaller number of ancient texts but provides interpretations of these texts and how they are similar to or different from their biblical parallels. The discussion of each text ends with reflection questions (often quite challenging) and a bibliography for further reading.
He identifies four goals of his book: to make intelligent comparison between biblical and Ancient Near Eastern texts possible; to give a wider view of the texts themselves (discussions of genre or the meaning of the whole text when a text has been excerpted); to provide starting points for analysis and comparison; and to open up avenues for motivated readers to explore further. The author does not take a strong ideological stance so that users who use critical methods of Bible study and those who do not can both profit from this book.
The twenty-five major categories of documents are arranged according to the...