Images of Nebuchadnezzar: The Emergence of a Legend

Images of Nebuchadnezzar: The Emergence of a Legend

Images of Nebuchadnezzar: The Emergence of a Legend

Images of Nebuchadnezzar: The Emergence of a Legend

Synopsis

"Images of Nebuchadnezzar attempts to probe the diversity of cultural attitudes reflected in the characterizations of this famous king through an examination of both the original cuneiform sources as well as the accounts of chronographers written in Greek, Roman, ad medieval times. Included in this revised and expanded second edition are two new chapters that examine both Nebuchadnezzar's administrative policies and the impact that his death had on both contemporary and later cultures. Both the positive and negative images of the king are explored, with conclusions being developed as to what the authors of the various surviving accounts actually thought the king really was. In the process, the whole nature of historiography in the ancient world is analyzed, and a number of broad conclusions are developed." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

With the capture of Babylon by Cyrus ii of Persia in 539 B.C., the eleventh Babylonian dynasty came to an end. Founded by the Chaldean sheikh Nabopolassar (Akk. Nabû-aplausur) on 23 November 626 B.C., this period witnessed some of the more significant events in the history of the ancient Near East. However, despite the plethora of letters, economic contract tablets, building inscriptions, and chronicles surviving the age, large gaps in our knowledge of the Chaldean period from primary sources still exist. Consequently, historians must utilize descriptions of a number of these events in secondary sources written in languages other than Akkadian. the conquest of the Jews and their subsequent deportation by Nebuchadnezzar, the building of imposing walls around Babylon, and the sojourn of Nabonidus in Tema were all noteworthy items to historians and chronographers representing a number of different value systems. Many of these sources emphasize the importance of actual historical events through the creation of a somewhat mythical picture of the individual being described. in fashioning such an image, the classical, medieval, or Hebrew author preserves a cultural attitude toward a particular person in accordance with his peculiar achievements, real or imagined. Such attitudes enable the investigation of historical periods from several different perspectives.

More than fifty years ago, Tabouis published an extensive study of Nebuchadnezzar (McGraw Hill, 1931) in which he attempted to incorporate some of the source material surviving from ancient times. Considering the length of the king’s reign and the wealth of secondary literature contained in the books of the Old Testament, his choice of topic seems only logical. However, although the Assyriologists V. Scheil, J. Strassmaier, and T. G. Pinches, among others, had already discovered . . .

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