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A Covenant with Death
Death in the Iron Age II and Its Rhetorical Uses in Proto-Isaiah

Christopher B. Hays
Foreword by Matthew J. Suriano
PAPERBACK; Published: 11/15/2015
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7311-8
Price: $ 50.00
465 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
DESCRIPTION
Shows how ancient Near Eastern attitudes toward death illumine the Hebrew Bible

Death is one of the major themes of First Isaiah, although it has not generally been recognized as such. In this work Christopher Hays offers fresh interpretations of more than a dozen passages in Isaiah 5-38 in light of ancient beliefs about death. What especially distinguishes Hays's study is its holistic approach, as he brilliantly synthesizes both literary and archaeological evidence, resulting in new insights.

Hays first summarizes what is known about death in the ancient Near East during the Second Iron Age, covering beliefs and practices in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria-Palestine, and Judah/Israel. He then shows how select passages in the first part of Isaiah employ the rhetorical imagery of death that was part of their cultural context; further, he identifies ways in which these texts break new creative ground.
REVIEWS
Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin
"Anyone interested in biblical studies, especially First Isaiah, or ancient Near eastern culture will benefit from this helpful synthesis of archaeology and texts related to death."
Religious Studies Review
"Comprehensive, up to date, and detailed, the volume should be consulted by all those interested in religious and cultural practices related to death in the ancient Near East, as well as prophetic rhetoric and its relationship to the book of Isaiah."
Bernd U. Schipper
— Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
"A masterful and fascinating overview of death in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ugarit, and Judah. . . . Christopher Hays offers a thorough discussion of ancient Near Eastern conceptions and imagery of the underworld and its deities, the afterlife, burials, and mourning. Students as well as scholars will benefit from the rich synthesis that this work provides."
Kara Cooney
— University of California, Los Angeles
"Hays's holistic perspective and readable prose effectively move biblical scholarship out of safe territorial boxes and into the real world of hybridization and cross-pollination. This book belongs on the bookshelf of any contextualizing scholar."
Matthew J. Suriano
— (from the foreword)
Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies, University of Maryland
"The appearance of this accessible and affordable volume is a welcome event in biblical studies and an important advancement in the ongoing work on death in the ancient world."

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