There are quite a few good books out there which serve the purpose of tying together or somehow relating the OT to the parallel ANE documents. A few that come to mind are Jack Sasson’s Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Amelie Kuhrt’s The Ancient Near East, and the classic set edited by J. B. Pritchard, Ancient Near East. I recently also noticed Kenton Sparks’ Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible as well as Hess’ Israelite Religions: An Archaeological and Biblical Survey and Walton’s Ancient Near East Thought and the Old Testament. These texts are helpful, though some of these are quite expensive (Sasson & Kuhrt, for example). Others of them may be too much for pastors or students who are not experts in the field (Hess, for example). The Walton text is helpful, but you can’t read the ANE texts for yourself, if that’s what you’re after. I admit I’m not the expert here, nor have I read the above books cover to cover. I’ll let Andrew and our OT students comment more on these things. ::::UPDATE May 29::::: John has a helpful post here (and elsewhere on his blog) if you want to dig a bit deeper in this realm (pun intended).
I used the Pritchard volume(s) in seminary, so I can and do vouch for those. You can see pictures and the ANE texts themselves (translated, of course). In these volumes you can read ANE war texts, temple dedication texts, letters, hymns, treaties, myths and so forth from ANE cultures/civilizations (Sumer, Assyria, Babylon, and so on).
One that I just purchased and have found useful is Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East by Victor Matthews and Don Benjamin (the newly expanded/revised edition just came out a few years ago). So far, I’ve enjoyed this book. Basically, it follows the structure of the OT (Pentateuch to Prophets) and lists several examples from ANE texts of clear parallels. There is a Scripture index in the back, so, for example, if you were preaching on Psalm 68 you’d see that on page 250 an ancient Baal text is listed. It says,
“Listen to me, almighty Ba’al
Hear me out, Rider of the Clouds
Now is the time for you to strike
Slay your enemies and eliminate your rivals
Now is the time to found an everlasting kingdom
Establish your dominion throughout all generations!”
This echoes Psalm 68 (or Psalm 68 echoes it), where Yahweh arises and his enemies are scattered, driven away, and melted like wax. Psalm 68 is a poem where Yahweh ascends on high, leading captivity captive and giving gifts to men while slaying his enemies. The parallels are obvious.
All in all, the Mathews/Benjamin book is a good start when studying ANE/OT parallels. Granted, they do not discuss comparative studies with regard to methodology, use of texts, archaeology, and so forth (Andrew will tell us where to go for that!), but it does give the reader a little window into some ANE texts which clearly are similar to OT texts.
Feel free to add to this post by way of comment; it is just the tip of the iceberg, sort of a “way to begin” thinking about reading ANE texts in the Christian’s study.
One more note: You’ll recognize the above names Walton and Matthews if you have The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament – they did much of the work on that, and it is a good though brief one volume OT/ANE parallel commentary, very much worth getting.