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A Covenant with Death



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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.

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