I received the Archaeological Study Bible
for Christmas. I'm not going to dedicate myself to commenting on it, partly because I'm lazy, and partly because I have very little time. But, as I am so inclined, I'll comment on it.
I appreciated their comparative analysis of creation myths. The creation myths of other Ancient Near East (ANE) cultures served to glorify one god over the others, glorify one place over others (as the origin of the primordial lump), or to deify an object, such as the sun or the moon. The Biblical creation account in its construction rejects all of those. There are no other gods. Nothing exists that God did not create. Nothing is deified or comparable.
I was rather disappointed in their first reference, concerning the meaning of the Hebrew word yom
, because, although they are correct that it can be used to mean an indefinite period of time (as it does in English, ala
"Back in the day"), when it is used in Scripture with the phrase "evening and morning" it always refers to a rotation of the earth. Unless you want to postulate a Garden of Eden at the North pole, you're pretty well stuck with a literal day.
Their explanation of the purpose of the bride price made it seem reasonable. The bride's family was to hold the bride price should she find herself divorced or abandoned. It was like paying child support and alimony in advance. In a period without social services, it makes sense. That's why Rachel and Leah considered it an crime by their brother Laban that he had used up their bride price. It wasn't his money, it was their money, held in trust for them.
Their comment that the rivers of Eden named the Tigris and Euphrates are "doubtless the same" as the rivers currently known by those names is bogus. Between the Garden of Eden and today there was a global Flood, which would have rearranged landmasses and watersheds entirely. And it is also tremendously unlikely that the ark landed in precisely the same area it departed from. Far more likely is that Noah et al
departed the ark, and reused river names they were familiar with. Much as New England
is littered with names of towns, cities, lakes, counties, etc., from England.
The last comment on chapter two, that the Bible contains the only description in ANE literature of the creation of woman, is telling.