Wolfram von Soden wrote in The Ancient Orient: An Introduction to the study of the Ancient Near East,
The high cultures of the ancient Orient do not merely provide developmental phases from the preliterate cultures to the Hellenistic world, nor do they serve as a mere composite of ancient cultures. Rather, they also represent unique and unduplicated realizations of human possibilities in many respects, particularly in the religious, intellectual and artistic spheres. It is these materializations that, having often been insufficiently appreciated, make the study of cultures beyond a merely antiquarian interest so rewarding. (248)
Here “Orient” is “German” for Near East. Of course, something like this can be said for just about any set of related cultures or even cultures that are not so clearly related as are the cultures of the ancient Near East. But because of my own abnormal interests, I find von Soden’s words particularly relevant.
Am I still weirded out by claims that some people (me) having antiquarian interests in some vaguely pejorative sense? Yeah, likely so. But then I still need to read Brad Kelle and Megan Moore’s book (Biblical History and Israel’s Past: The Changing Study of the Bible and History) in which Brad assures me that all is set right.