'The Babylonian Genesis' (2nd ed.), pub. 1951 and still in print, covers the history of the literature of the ancient Near East. Aimed at the Old Testament scholar, it is technical in that it explores the history and the languages of the time in detail. However, many of the points made are common sense, and it can be read at that level. The substantial Sumerian-Babylonian-Assyrian creation story 'Enuma elish' (which are the first two words of the story) goes back to 650BC, and probably thousands of years before that. It is given in full here, translated into English from the best cuneiform clay tablets. Some intriguing stories like the 'Myth of the Zu-bird' are also given, but they are unfortunately fragmentary and in that state are more pieces of history than literature proper. There is an excellent sixty page section comparing and contrasting the ancient Hebrew Old Testament parallels to these texts, covering a wide spectrum of books such as Genesis, Job, Psalms, and Isaiah. The literature of Ugarit and similar are mentioned. There are many useful footnotes and references. Alexander Heidel was on the research staff of the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, until his death in 1955.
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The review of this Book prepared by Michael JR Jose