Early Mesopotamian Divination Literature

Its Organizational Framework and Generative and Paradigmatic Characteristics


In Early Mesopotamian Divination Literature: Its Organizational Framework and Generative and Paradigmatic Characteristics, Abraham Winitzer provides a detailed study of the Akkadian Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1600 BC) omen collections stemming from extispicy, the most significant Mesopotamian divination technique for most of that civilization’s history. Paying close attention to these texts’ organizational structure, Winitzer details the mechanics responsible for their origins and development, and highlights key characteristics of a conceptual framework that helped reconfigure Mesopotamian divination into a literature in line with significant, new forms of literary expression from the same time. This literature, Winitzer concludes, represents an early form of scientific reasoning that began to appreciate the centrality of texts and textual interpretation in this civilization’s production, organization, and conception of knowledge.
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Biographical Note

Abraham Winitzer, Ph.D. (2006), Harvard University, is Associate Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages at Notre Dame. He works on Mesopotamian literature as well as on Mesopotamia’s influence on the Hebrew Bible. He is currently completing a biography of A. Leo Oppenheim.

Table of contents

Abbreviations and Conventions
Introductory Note: Text Citation, Translation, Transcription, and Secondary Literature
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Inner-Omen Organization
Chapter 3: Inter-Omen Organization (I)
Chapter 4: Inter-Omen Organization (II): Complex Gradation
Chapter 5: Inter-omen Organization (III)
Chapter 6: Conclusion


All interested in Mesopotamian divination and divination literature, and anyone concerned with text production and textuality in the ancient Near East and early conceptions of scientific thinking in that world.


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