Predicting the Past in the Ancient Near East

Predicting the Past in the Ancient Near East: Mantic Historiography in Ancient Mesopotamia, Judah, and the Mediterranean World

Matthew Neujahr
Copyright Date: 2012
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14bs6hw
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  • Book Info
    Predicting the Past in the Ancient Near East
    Book Description:

    This work provides an in-depth investigation of after-the-fact predictions in ancient Near Eastern texts from roughly 1200 B.C.E.–70 C.E. It argues that the Akkadian, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek works discussed are all part of a developing scribal discourse of “mantic historiography” by which scribes blend their local traditions of history writing and predictive texts to produce a new mode of historiographic expression. This in turn calls into question the use and usefulness of traditional literary categories such as “apocalypse” to analyze such works.

    eISBN: 978-1-930675-81-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    In many ways, the present investigation may be viewed as a history of the use ofvaticinium ex eventuas a literary technique in the mantic writings of the ancient Near East, from our earliest evidence in Mesopotamian literature of the late second millennium through the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E. Unlike other studies focused on a literary device, the present work consciously blends literary with historical concerns. This is due to the fact thatvaticinium ex eventuof the type investigated in the pages to follow involves “predicting” identifiable historical phenomena one after another in a...

  6. 2 The Akkadian Ex Eventu Compositions: Texts, Notes, and Discussion
    (pp. 13-74)

    In order to lay an adequate foundation for study, the present chapter contains a fresh translation of each Akkadianex eventucomposition alongside a transliteration of the Akkadian text, coupled with textual notes and discussion. As stated in the introduction, the discussion presented here is not intended as a comprehensive commentary; rather, it focuses on those elements most pertinent to unpacking the use ofvaticinia ex eventuin each text. Full transliterations and translations have been included in this study for two reasons: (1) while English translations of all the texts can be found in T. Longman’sFictional Akkadian Autobiography,¹...

  7. 3 The Genre Problem: Ancient Contexts and Modern Categories
    (pp. 75-118)

    A very large portion of the scholarly energies expended on the analysis of the texts discussed in Chapter 2 has been devoted to determining precisely how best to categorize them. The present chapter evaluates various proposals on how to categorize the Akkadianex eventutexts within the spectrum of ancient Mesopotamian literature. Since several prominent scholars have proposed different literary genres as appropriate ways of situating the texts to aid scholarly analyses, this chapter seeks first, to discuss briefly the problem of what precisely we mean when we speak about genre; second, to survey those forms of Akkadian literature to...

  8. 4 Daniel and 1 Enoch: Ex Eventu Prediction in the Early Historical Apocalypses
    (pp. 119-152)

    Each of the above quotations (familiar already from the introduction) bears witness to a school of thought, prominent primarily among Assyriologists, that the Akkadianex eventutexts directly influenced the writing of apocalypses by Judeans of the Hellenistic and early Roman periods. Of the three authors quoted, Grayson is in some regards the most circumspect. While he asserts that the Uruk and Dynastic prophecies are full-blown examples of “apocalyptic literature” (how this may differ from an “apocalypse” for Grayson remains unstated), he never directly asserts that the author of some Judean apocalypses actually read these works. He does, however, speak...

  9. 5 Ex Eventu Prediction in the Dead Sea Scrolls
    (pp. 153-194)

    The discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls from eleven caves near the site of Khirbet Qumran (and a few other sites in the Judean desert) has thrown wide open a long-shuttered window on the religion and writings of Hellenistic-and Roman-era Judeans outside the preserved literary canons of Judaism and Christianity. Among these fi nds we may differentiate two types of material. On the one hand are documents that exhibit clear signs of being the products of a specific sect within Second Temple Judea (whether or not that group was the Essenes, or located at Khirbet Qumran, etc.). Among...

  10. 6 Ex Eventu Prediction in Greek Dress: The Case of the Sibylline Oracles
    (pp. 195-242)

    The Judean texts discussed so far share much in common: all were originally composed in either Hebrew or Aramaic; where the literature survives complete only in translation (e.g.,1 Enoch), we still possess some of the work in its original language of composition. Furthermore, all the texts can be identified with a fairly high degree of probability as documents originating in or around Judea. For the final group of historical reviews cast as predictions after the fact, we now turn to a quite distinct literary phenomenon: sibylline oracles, in particular, those preserved in the “canonical”Oracula Sibyllina.¹ These are texts...

  11. 7 Literary Tropes and Analytical Categories: Mantic Historiography in the Ancient Near East
    (pp. 243-254)

    This study began with a proposition, put forth by several notable Assyriologists over the past half century: the book of Daniel, as the representative of Judean apocalypses, was directly influenced by knowledge of a small corpus of Akkadian compositions. Through consideration of the Akkadian texts themselves, scholarly studies of the texts, and the book of Daniel, it was determined that the similarities between the Akkadian works and Daniel amount almost exclusively to the use of extended historical review in the guise of prediction, that is to say, the use ofvaticinia ex eventuto place the author and audience of...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 255-282)
  13. Index of Passages
    (pp. 283-290)
  14. Index of Authors
    (pp. 291-296)
  15. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 297-301)