Genesis: World of Myths and PatriarchsAda Feyerick; contributing authors Cyrus H. Gordon and Nahum M. Sarna (New York: New York Univ. Press, 1996) 256 pp., $55.95 (hardcover)
Ada Feyerick, former history and archaeology editor for Horizon Magazine, has filled this coffee-table volume with photos and maps of the ancient world’s most significant artifacts, and Cyrus Gordon and Nahum Sarna, senior scholars both, present alternating views of the Bible and the world that gave birth to it. Gordon concentrates on the history of three key regions: Mesopotamia, Canaan and Egypt, describing the archaeological sites and the literary and artistic evidence that survives from each culture. Sarna, a specialist in Genesis, connects the three lands to the first book of the Bible. Mesopotamia, for instance, provides the background to Genesis 1–11, which includes the story of the Creation, the Garden of Eden and the Flood, chapters heavily influenced by Mesopotamian myths. Canaan is the backdrop to Sarna’s discussion of the Patriarchs (Genesis 12–36), and Egypt is the setting of the extended story of Joseph (Genesis 37–50). Archaeologist William Dever provides a foreword on what his discipline can (and cannot) contribute to understanding the Western world’s most influential book.