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Poetic Heroes: The Literary Commemorations of Warriors and Warrior Culture in the Early Biblical World

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2014 / Paperback

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Product Description

A close reading of several classics of ancient warrior poetry

Warfare exerts a magnetic power, even a terrible attraction, in its emphasis on glory, honor, and duty. In order to face the terror of war, it is necessary to face how our biblical traditions have made it attractive - even alluring.

In this book Mark Smith undertakes an extensive exploration of "poetic heroes" across a number of ancient cultures in order to understand the attitudes of those cultures toward war and warriors. Smith examines the Iliad and the Gilgamesh; Ugaritic poems commemorating Baal, Aqhat, and the Rephaim; and early biblical poetry, including the battle hymn of Judges 5 and the lament of David over Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1. Smith's Poetic Heroes analyzes the importance of heroic poetry in early Israel and its disappearance after the time of David, building on several strands of scholarship in archaeological research, poetic analysis, and cultural reconstruction.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 640
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 0802867928
ISBN-13: 9780802867926
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Warfare exerts a magnetic power, even a terrible attraction, in its emphasis on glory, honor, and duty. In order to face the terror of war, it is necessary to face how our biblical traditions have made it attractive -- even alluring.

In this book Mark Smith undertakes an extensive exploration of "poetic heroes" across a number of ancient cultures in order to understand the attitudes of those cultures toward war and warriors. Smith examines the Iliad and the Gilgamesh; Ugaritic poems commemorating Baal, Aqhat, and the Rephaim; and early biblical poetry, including the battle hymn of Judges 5 and the lament of David over Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1. Smith's Poetic Heroes analyzes the importance of heroic poetry in early Israel and its disappearance after the time of David, building on several strands of scholarship in archaeological research, poetic analysis, and cultural reconstruction.

Author Bio

Mark S. Smith holds the Skirball Chair of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University. His many other books include The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel and God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World.

Editorial Reviews

Ronald Hendel
-- University of California, Berkeley
"Mark Smith takes us on a fascinating tour of the 'lost world' of early Israelite warrior culture. From the heroic values of love, life, and death to the poetic victories of divine and human warriors (both male and female), a submerged stratum of biblical and prebiblical culture comes to life. At once erudite and engaging, this is a treat for discerning readers of the Bible."

Susan Niditch
-- Amherst College
"With sophisticated comparative analysis of classical ancient Near Eastern texts, Smith's Poetic Heroes probes questions critical to an appreciation of cultural identity and worldview. His work is an innovative and thoughtful contribution to the study of ancient epic traditions, and he grapples deftly with issues in gender and war, providing a basis for further work in religious ethics."

Susan Ackerman
-- Dartmouth College
"Smith offers an impressively in-depth account of warriors and warrior culture as depicted in some of the greatest literary masterpieces of the ancient eastern Mediterranean and the ancient Near East. . . . His analysis teases out of these texts key ideas of what defines warriors in the early biblical world, also describing how ancient ideas about warriors were presented and transmitted in oral and written form. . . . An invaluable reference."

Karel van der Toorn
-- University of Amsterdam
"Poetic Heroes offers a tremendous amount of things to learn, to enjoy, to savor, and to argue about. A profound reflection on warrior culture in the world of the Bible by a great scholar."

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