Academic journal article The Journal of the American Oriental Society

Some Notes on Enuma Elis

Academic journal article The Journal of the American Oriental Society

Some Notes on Enuma Elis

Article excerpt

The last decade or so has witnessed a substantial increase in the number of books dealing with enuma elis. This is most evident when compared with the century that passed since George Smith's (1876) first translation of "The Chaldean Account of Genesis." This prolific period starts with the publication of Philippe Talon's (2005) volume containing an introduction, cuneiform text, transliteration, French translation, sign list, and glossary, for the series State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts. It was followed by Thomas Kammerer and Kai Metzler's (2012) study in German that presents a convenient score of the Akkadian text. Wilfred Lambert's (2013) much awaited edition and analysis appeared later, some forty-seven years after he and Simon Parker presented a composite autograph copy (1966). In 2014 Lluis Feliu Mateu and Adelina Millet Alba released a Spanish translation, which, like Lambert's, includes other Babylonian "creation myths." These recent renderings of enuma elis have enhanced our understanding of the Akkadian composition and become particularly relevant in view of the lack of previous treatments of the totality of all extant manuscripts. In this context, Gosta Gabriel's Enuma elis--Weg zu einer globalen Weltordnung stands as an original contribution that, unlike its most recent predecessors, does not include transliterations or translations.

The author mentions that, although there exists a copious literature on this piece, previous studies are either selective or general. He therefore aims at undertaking the first overall interpretation of enuma elis in order to analyze the work by means of an interdisciplinary dialogue. The first chapter is devoted to research questions and methodological concerns; the second deals with the clay tablet manuscripts. The linear structure is the subject of chapter three, and non-linear compositional elements are scrutinized in chapter four. The next chapter focuses on the key lexeme simtu in relation to its text-immanent function and in connection with the concepts of name and naming. Issues pertaining to royal rise and succession are discussed in chapter six; chapter seven explores the problem of legitimation of kingship. Chapter eight offers a synthesis of the topics discussed throughout the book, and the final chapter situates the results in the context of broader research questions.

The work is accompanied by a list of those passages (transcriptions and translations) discussed in the text, and by two tables that present the text witnesses. The tables include the following columns: abbreviations in Lambert's Babylonian Creation Myths, extended abbreviations, paleography, provenance / tablet type, museum / excavation number; autograph copy or photo, manuscript length, and abbreviations in Kammerer and Metzler's Das babylonische Weltschbpfungsepos Enuma elis. The first table is arranged according to the cuneiform tablets and the second according to their provenance. The book is well organized and displays a systematic progression in the analysis of topics. The exposition is clear, and the tables and figures are helpful for a cursory look at some of the points discussed.

The author considers two approaches: one is text-immanent (with limited intertextual references) and the other is culture-immanent or emic (p. 7). The pragmatic extra-relational and the semantic text-immanent dimensions of the composition are also investigated (pp. 13-16). There is a careful consideration regarding the use and translation of certain concepts and denominations. Thus, it is pointed out that scholars usually resort to titles such as "Babylonian Creation Epic" or "Babylonian Genesis"; however, since the creation of the world is only one of the means for Marduk's rise to the head of the pantheon, Gabriel prefers instead to refer to the composition by its incipit, enuma elis, or by what he calls its self-designation, i.e., Lied auf Marduk, "The Song of Marduk," after the expression zamdru sa Marutuk that appears towards the end of the text (VII 161). …

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