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Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 240 Reviews yielded by derogative manners of the rural inhabitants); moving to Israel (1939) when Shofman was fifty-nine; his admiration of the land of Israel, the vital and uplifting literary milieu in Israel; the acceptance of Israel's most prestigious prize for literary creation (1956); moving from Tel Aviv to Haifa. Shofman's stay in Israel until his death (1972) earns much attention in this book. There is an emphasis on Shofman's continuous encounter with his new-old homestead and the flaming enthusiasm with which he portrays that encounter: the admiration of Shofman for Israel's landscapes and people which conceived many stories; and the most warm responses to Shofman's literary work by Israel's writers and readers. As mentioned above, Tarnor interweaves references to Shofman's stories with narrating Shofman's biographical chronicles and experiences. The second part of the book channels attention to Shofman's literary pieces. The critical references to Shofman's stories tend to follow a repeating track: a short consideration of the topic in focus (symbolism in Shofman's stories, army experiences in Shofman's stories, the woman figure, etc.), a brief evaluation of Shofman's aesthetic achievement in molding the topic under consideration, and examples from various stories. In most cases, the references to the stories are primarily·considered for the purpose of narrating the story's plot and depicting its characters. The second section of the book's second part examines Shofman's responses to literary criticism, and the final section reports biblical allusions and motifs in Shofman's stories. The book's various discussions are evidently inspired by the writer's personal affection for Shofman. In this respect, Shofman the person is no less of a protagonist in this book than is his literary work. Yair Mazor University ofTexas Austin. TX 78712 SIN AND SANCTION IN ISRAEL AND MESOPOTAMIA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY. By K. van der Toom. Studia Semitica Neerlandica 22. pp. 252 + 9 Plates. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1985. Paper. It is a commonplace now to affirm that ancient Israel and its principal monument, the Hebrew Bible, cannot really be understood without know- Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 241 Reviews ing something of the ancient Near Eastern environment to which they belonged. But too often the knowledge involved has been superficial, and too often the comparisons that have resulted between Israel and its Near Eastern environment have been tendentious, caught up in a "parallelomania ," as Samuel Sandmel put it in a celebrated article (JBL 81 [1962):113 ), that has carried little appreciation for the larger cultural systems being compared. Van der Toorn brings to the comparative enterprise a broad and exacting training, and the present volume represents a serious and enlightening effort to deal with the problems such an enterprise entails. As the title indicates, the focus of this volume lies with Israel and Mesopotamia, and it lays out an agenda that is nothing if not ambitious. The point of origin, the author tells us, was his desire to investigate Israelite and Mesopotamian penitential prayer. In order to do this, however, he found himself drawn into a much larger issue, the moral world-view of each culture in which the prayers were grounded. Six chapters use the prayers, along with a variety of other textual evidence, to probe the basic features and structure of these world-views and to consider the ways in which they were similar and dissimilar. A long appendix returns to the point of origin with a discussion of two of the murkier categories of Mesopotamian penitential prayers, the !lgrJ and the dlnglr§adlbba, and editions of eight cuneiform prayers, incantations, and other rituals-seven in Akkadian and one in Hittite-that are of a penitential nature. The range of topics and texts covered is very wide indeed. Chap. 1 sets the background with a broad comparison of the social organization, religious beliefs, and intellectual orientation of Israel and Mesopotamia, and a brief consideration of the comparative enterprise itself and its difficulties. For van der Toorn the study of the moral world-view is a means to discovering the "essence" of each culture, particularly its religion, and he proposes to do so largely...


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