The Erra Song: A Religious, Literary, and Comparative Analysis
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CitationTaylor, Kynthia. 2017. The Erra Song: A Religious, Literary, and Comparative Analysis. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis study presents an edition and analysis of one of the latest works of Babylonian mythological literature, the Erra Song. It is founded both on a fresh edition and translation of the text with detailed lexicographic and grammatical commentary, in appendix A, and the collection of all available attestations of the text’s major figures’ names across the entire span of Mesopotamian history, a project that undergirds chapters 3–5. The first chapter offers an overview of previous scholarship on this text. Chapter 2 attempts to resolve some basic interpretive obstacles to understanding the thread of the text’s narrative, such as who speaks what lines and what antecedents lie behind certain ambiguous referents; it is therein concluded that the text, said to be a revelation from the god Erra, opens with a hymn to the god Išum that is general rather than serving as the beginning of the narrative proper. Chapter 3 constructs a history of Erra’s cult, arguing that the etymology of this god’s name cannot be established and that, always associated especially with war, Erra is portrayed in increasingly savage ways over time. Chapter 4 evaluates the evidence for the history of Išum’s cult and concludes that, never a fire god, Išum gradually migrates into the god Nergal’s orbit and in late texts comes especially to be associated with magical practices. Chapter 5 assesses the history of the cult of the Divine Heptad, the semi-demonic creatures who goad Erra into action in the Erra Song, and asserts that many purported references to the Divine Heptad are in fact better understood as references to other supernatural beings with whom the Divine Heptad are occasionally conflated. Chapter 6 takes up the problem of general issues of interpretation, arguing that Erra’s attack on the cosmos as recounted by the text is not motivated by a desire to punish terrestrial misconduct; that there is no reason to suppose Marduk, Babylon’s high god, abandons his cult statue or is parodied for needing to have his jewelry cleaned; and that the text skirts issues of theodicy without addressing them. Finally, in chapter 7 the Erra Song is assessed vis-à-vis related Mesopotamian literature, and it is argued that, unique in many ways, the text shares certain stylistic properties with “wisdom” literature even as it appears to belong loosely to the genre of mythological poetry.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42061524
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