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Homer's Odyssey and the Near East [Hardcover]

Bruce Louden
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

6 Jan 2011
The Odyssey's larger plot is composed of a number of distinct genres of myth, all of which are extant in various Near Eastern cultures (Mesopotamian, West Semitic, Egyptian). Unexpectedly, the Near Eastern culture with which the Odyssey has the most parallels is the Old Testament. Consideration of how much of the Odyssey focuses on non-heroic episodes - hosts receiving guests, a king disguised as a beggar, recognition scenes between long-separated family members - reaffirms the Odyssey's parallels with the Bible. In particular the book argues that the Odyssey is in a dialogic relationship with Genesis, which features the same three types of myth that comprise the majority of the Odyssey: theoxeny, romance (Joseph in Egypt), and Argonautic myth (Jacob winning Rachel from Laban). The Odyssey also offers intriguing parallels to the Book of Jonah, and Odysseus' treatment by the suitors offers close parallels to the Gospels' depiction of Christ in Jerusalem.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (6 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521768209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521768207
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,983,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'The study of the densely woven fabric that holds together Aegean and Near Eastern cultures since the Bronze Age continues to fascinate researchers and readers. This book is a welcome addition to recent studies, which are advancing this field by moving past the rather impressionistic and cataloguing approach that prevailed in previous decades … Louden's nuanced and not unidirectional line of comparative work opens up new perspectives for Hellenists, as well as biblical and Near Eastern scholars … it will be a useful reference for future research.' Carolina López-Ruiz, Classical World

Book Description

The Odyssey's plot consists of distinct types of myth, all of which are also in Near Eastern texts such as Gilgamesh, other Mesopotamian myths, Egyptian narratives, and in particular the Bible. This book argues that reading the Odyssey can help readers to understand and clarify the Bible, and vice versa.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for classical and biblical scholars 14 April 2011
`Homer's Odyssey and the Near-East' by Bruce Louden discusses remarkably surprising parallels between Homer and the Old Testament. The book is written with much clarity is very enjoyable for both scholars and non-scholars. Classical scholars and biblical scholars will equally find interest in realizing the extent and accuracy of the Homeric and biblical parallels. For instance, chapter 2 discusses the theme of theoxeny, the welcoming by humans of a god disguised as a mortal, appearing several times in the Odyssey, and in Genesis 18-19. Chapter 3 offers a striking parallelism between Odysseus' return to Ithaca, disguised as an old beggar, preparing his revenge against his wife Penelope's suitors, and the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Both characters hide their identity in front of their relatives, who believe that were dead for long. Both have to hide their emotions when confronting their loved ones, until the moving scenes of the revelation. Chapter 4 discusses the parallel between Helen welcoming Odysseus and Menelaus when they come to spy on Troy and Rahab in Joshua 2-6, as two spies sent by Joshua are protected by Rahab in Jericho. Chapter 6 discusses the parallel between Jacob, his wife Rachel and his father-in-law Laban with characters from the Argonautic myth, Jason, the princess Medea and her father Aietes. Chapter 10 explains an interesting similarity in the stories of Moses away from the people of Israel, receiving God's law, while the people worship the golden calf, and the divine wrath that follows (Exodus 32). Moses pleads the cause of Israel, and God decides to contain the apocalypse. Similarly, on the island of Thrinaka, while Odysseus is away praying, his crew sacrifice the cattle of the Sun-God Helios, and he threatens to destroy them, but Zeus tries to appease his wrath. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Comparative Between the Odyssey and Ancient Near Eastern Texts 14 Dec 2012
By Zadius Sky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Homer's Odyssey and the Near East" is the second book by Bruce Louden that I've read after reading his previous book, The Odyssey: Structure, Narration, and Meaning. After reading this latter book, I became more curious about Louden's further findings about Homer's "The Odyssey" and I came upon this latest book of his, which became even more interesting because the author has discovered that "The Odyssey" epic has the most parallels with the Old Testament. And, he backed up this notion with the examples and excerpts from both the Odyssey epic and the Bible.

The result from reading this latest book by Louden has deepened my understanding of the comparison and interaction between "The Odyssey" and the Bible, and it has taught me a good deal about the importance of the epic and it has forced me to ask: "which came first, the Odyssey or the Bible?"

Most intriguing, indeed. I found this book to be the one of the most fascinating scholarly works.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 30 May 2013
By JayB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I recommend this Book to anyone serious about biblical studies. Along with professor Macdonald's The Homeric Epics And The Gospel of Mark it should be without doubt, the Bible has many many parallels with the Homer.
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