Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical, & Theological Commentary

By Thomas L. Brodie | Go to book overview

APPENDIX FIVE
LANDMARKS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF
LITERATURE: TOWARD A MAP OF
LANGUAGE, WRITING, AND LITERATURE
The literary tradition behind Genesis-Kings is vast—more than twenty centuries of writing, from the beginnings in Sumer and Egypt about 3000 BCE to the voluminous blossoming in Greek. This background has been partly indicated in several publications (especially ANET, and the work edited by Hallo and Younger, 1997–2001); and several connections with biblical writing have been established, most notably between Mesopotamian epic and Genesis 1–9.But there is reason to suspect that the network of connections was far greater, extending into Greece, and that many of these connections can yet be traced. Ancient writers depended heavily on their predecessors. Writing and scripts have a genealogy (Gelb, 1963, x-xi). The Greeks also have a genealogy; they were not vacuum-packed. The roots of Greek art and writing are solidly in the East (Burkert, 1992; Morris, 1992), and, probably more than any other ancient nation, the Greeks traveled (Boardman, 1980).The purpose of this appendix is to indicate tentatively what a broader map of ancient literature would look like, literature related to Genesis-Kings.
Egypt
Writing's beginnings were weak. There was no Cervantes or Tolstoy, no Jane Austen. Still, in other forms, there were significant developments:
Minimal Biography (2900–2300 BCE): Tomb inscriptions developed into short biographies. These attested to the person's standing, partly to ensure preservation of the person's soul.
Wisdom Literature (2900–2300 BCE): This time apparently also saw the beginning of extensive wisdom literature, including eventually (ca. 1900) a dialogue about life and death, and The Teaching of Amenemope.

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