“Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East” by Martti Nissinen

In this short collection of prophecy from the Ancient Near East, Martti Nissinen, along with contributions by C.L. Seow and Robert K. Ritner, attempts to show ancient prophecy through a paradigm not of the Hebrew Bible agenda. Though he does recognize how a more developed understanding of the Hebrew Bible is understood through non-biblical sources, his goal is to present the primary literature independently from the biblical paradigm. In each chapter, he briefly introduces an Assyrian, or Neo-Assyrian, paradigm to understanding the texts that will follow. Parallel to the prophecy in English, he places the transliteration for the scholar in need of it. For further studies, he shows places where scholars have utilized or discussed the texts presented.

Overall, he does accomplish his goal to present the prophecy from it’s own paradigm. His introductory sections to each chapter allow the reader to know what he is approaching and prepare his mind to grasp it. To an undergraduate reader like myself, the introductions are extremely helpful because I do not have any background knowledge to reading these texts. That alone suggests that, while it is a difficult read, any high-level student is capable of reading and understanding what is in “Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East”. Furthermore, because he does show where else a reader can learn more about the specific text, it is a great starting place for a student hoping to write about Ancient Near-Eastern prophecy.

In conclusion, there is nothing negative to be said about this book. Perhaps people will hold different thoughts about certain comments he makes on the text or in the introductory section. Even so, that is part of scholarly work. Unfortunately, I am not qualified to be able to criticize his conclusions. For me, this was an introduction to Ancient Near-Eastern prophecy. As an introduction, Martti Nissinen has collected a fantastic grouping of texts. This I know for sure. Any person hoping to learn about this topic would do well in purchasing, and reading, “Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East”.

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