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Jean-Jacques Glassner

Le devin historien en Mesopotamie is a combined study of divination and historiography. More than mere custodians of historical memory, diviners approached omens as written signs and developed a sophisticated semiology to recognize and order them. Diviners perceived omens as potentially rich in various meanings and cultivated an elaborate hermeneutic for working these out using hypothetical and inductive reasoning. Even if omens were removed from the recorded facts, diviners endowed them with a wide range of possibilities. Divination sought to establish links among historical, cosmic, and natural events because it investigated at once the past, present, and future. The first study of its kind since 1946, when only about 60 historical omens were known, this work presents 385 in a comprehensive edition.
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Yasmina Wicks

Recent scholarship has begun to unveil the culturally rich and dynamic landscape of southwest Iran during the first half of the first millennium BCE (aka the Neo-Elamite period) and its significance as the incubation ground for the Persian Empire. In Profiling Death. Neo-Elamite Mortuary Practices, Afterlife Beliefs, and Entanglements with Ancestors, Yasmina Wicks continues the investigation of this critical epoch from the perspective of the mortuary record, bringing forth fascinating clues as to the ritual practices, beliefs, social structures and individual identities of Elam’s lowland and highland inhabitants. Enmeshed with its neighbours, yet in many ways culturally distinct, Elam receives its due treatment here as a core component of the ancient Near East.
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M. Victoria Almansa-Villatoro

Abstract

This article sets out to address questions concerning local religious traditions in ancient Nubia. Data concerning Egyptian gods in the Sudan are introduced, then the existence of unattested local pre-Meroitic gods is reconstructed using mainly external literary sources and an analysis of divine names. A review of other archaeological evidence from an iconographic point of view is also attempted, concluding with the presentation of Meroitic gods and their relation with earlier traditions. This study proposes that Egyptian religious beliefs were well integrated in both official and popular cults in Nubia. The Egyptian and the Sudanese cultures were constantly in contact in the border area and this nexus eased the transmission of traditions and iconographical elements in a bidirectional way. The Meroitic gods are directly reminiscent of the reconstructed indigenous Kushite pantheon in many aspects, and this fact attests to an attempt by the Meroitic rulers to recover their Nubian cultural identity.

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Collin Cornell

Abstract

In spite of renewed scholarly interest in the religion of Judeans living on the island of Elephantine during the Persian period, only one recent study has addressed the religious significance of the fired clay female figurines discovered there. The present article seeks to place these objects back on the research agenda. After summarizing the history of research, it also makes a new appraisal of the role of these objects in the religious life of Elephantine Judeans. Two factors prompt this reevaluation: first, newly found examples of the same figurine types; and second, Bob Becking’s recent research on Elephantine Aramaic texts attesting the phenomenon of “lending deities.”

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Jacques van der Vliet

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A reedition and analysis of a late (ca. 10th–11th cent.) Coptic magical charm found at Saqqara. The commentary links the charm to pre-Christian models and discusses the possible modes of transmission of traditional ritual knowledge in Christian Egypt.

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Nadav Na’aman

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The article discusses the date and cultural background of the Elisha and Naaman story (2 Kings 5). It first analyses the story and emphasizes the difference in its presentation of the prophet and the way he operates vis-à-vis all other stories in the Elisha story-cycle. It then analyses Naaman’s request to carry soil from the Land of Israel in order to erect an altar for Yhwh in Damascus (5:17) and brings evidence that the transportation of earth from one sacred place to another was known in Mesopotamia from the late second millennium BCE onward. In light of all the available evidence, it suggests that the story is not part of Elisha’s original story-cycle; rather, it illuminates the shift of ideas about the prophet, his prophecy, and the land of Israel in the transition from the monarchical to the early post-exilic period.

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Elizabeth Agaiby

In The Arabic Life of Antony Attributed to Serapion of Thmuis, Elizabeth Agaiby demonstrates how the redacted Life of Antony, the “Father of all monks and star of the wilderness”, gained widespread acceptance within Egypt shortly after its composition in the 13th century and dominated Coptic liturgical texts on Antony for over 600 years – the influence of which is still felt up to the present day. By providing a first edition and translation, Agaiby demonstrates how the Arabic Life bears witness to the reinterpretation of the religious memory of Antony in the Coptic Orthodox Church.
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Elizabeth Agaiby

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Elizabeth Agaiby