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Prayer in the Ancient World (PAW) is an innovative resource on prayer in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. The over 350 entries in PAW showcase a robust selection of the range of different types of prayers attested from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia, the Levant, early Judaism and Christianity, Greece, Rome, Arabia, and Iran, enhanced by critical commentary.
The project illustrates the variety of ways human beings have sought to communicate with or influence beings with extraordinary superhuman power for millennia. By including diverse examples such as vows and oaths, blessings, curses, incantations, graffiti, iconography, and more, PAW casts a wide net. In so doing, PAW privileges no particular tradition or conception of how to interact with the divine; for example, the project refuses to perpetuate a value distinction between “prayer,” “magic,” and “cursing.”

Detailed overviews introduce each area and address key issues such as language and terminology, geographical distribution, materiality, orality, phenomenology of prayer, prayer and magic, blessings and curses, and ritual settings and ritual actors. In order to be as comprehensive as practically possible, the volume includes a representative prayer of every attested type from each tradition.

Individual entries include a wealth of information. Each begins with a list of essential details, including the source, region, date, occasion, type and function, performers, and materiality of the prayer. Next, after a concise summary and a brief synopsis of the main textual witnesses, a formal description calls attention to the exemplar’s literary and stylistic features, rhetorical structure, important motifs, and terminology. The occasions when the prayer was used and its function are analyzed, followed by a discussion of how this exemplar fits within the range of variation of this type of prayer practice, both synchronically and diachronically. Important features of the prayer relevant for cross-cultural comparison are foregrounded in the subsequent section. Following an up-to-date translation, a concise yet detailed commentary provides explanations necessary for understanding the prayer and its function. Finally, each entry concludes with a bibliography of essential primary and secondary resources for further study.
The Dynamics of Mediation in the Biblical World and Old Babylonian Mari
Author:
In Prophet, Intermediary, King: The Dynamics of Mediation in the Biblical World and Old Babylonian Mari, Julie B. Deluty investigates the mediation of prophecy for kings in biblical narratives and the Old Babylonian corpus from Mari. In many cases, the prophet’s message is delivered through a third party—sometimes a royal official or family member—who may exercise a degree of autonomy in the transmission of the words. Drawing on social network theory, the book highlights the importance of third-party intermediaries in the process of communication that lies at the core of biblical and ancient Near Eastern prophecy. Recognition of the place of non-prophetic intermediaries in a monarchic system offers a new dimension to the study of prophecy in antiquity.
In: Prophet, Intermediary, King
In: Prophet, Intermediary, King
In: Prophet, Intermediary, King
In: Prophet, Intermediary, King
In: Prophet, Intermediary, King
In: Prophet, Intermediary, King
In: Prophet, Intermediary, King
Author:

Abstract

Though Nabû is well known in Babylonian religion as the minister of its patron god Marduk, and Tašmētu as Nabû’s wife, this paper argues that they were not originally envisioned as such. Instead, both the god and goddess seem to have been introduced into Marduk’s circle over the course of the Old Babylonian period, having previously been venerated in independent cults. Unexpected appearances of Tašmētu within the ritual practices of Babylon also suggest that she was only recognized as Nabû’s wife after they were both integrated into the Babylonian pantheon. Evidence of their early independence and subsequent assimilation is drawn from a wide pool of contemporary sources, including god lists, onomastics, and seal inscriptions, as well as descriptions of traditional ritual arrangements from later periods.

In: Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions