Beyond A Merely Antiquarian Interest

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.

One thought on “Beyond A Merely Antiquarian Interest”

  1. I like the quote, as well.
    Apart from older civilizations offering us excellent lessons of history (whether we can use them to help our current foresight or not – spiritually or secularly), I would rather spend time studying the past if nothing else: it’s better than spending my time watching prime-time television and sitcoms.
    Of course, I also prefer a harpsichord or clavichord to a piano – but who doesn’t? Right? 🙂
    I don’t like the term “antiquarian” – I prefer the term “born-in-the-wrong-century”.

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