The Netherlands Institute for the Near East

Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten  -  Institut néerlandais du Proche-Orient

Book Specifications
col. 1-262 pp.

Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXVIII, 1/2 (2021)

2021  |  BiOr Volume 78 1/2 ISSN: 0006-1913


In Memoriam Olivier Nieuwenhuyse

by B. Düring

Vernus, P. — Le travail littéraire des scribes Égyptiens dans les « miscelanées » : composition, décomposition, recomposition et brassage d’idées

Une lecture critique de la belle synthèse de Chl. Ragazzoli, permet d’entrevoir certains procédés utilisés par les scribes pour composer leurs « chefs d’oeuvre », au sens artisanal. Certains avaient récupéré dans de vieilles archives un « ordre royal » qu’ils avaient décontextualisé pour en tirer désormais un parangon de remontrance à l’encontre de l’administrateur négligent (pAnastasi IV, 10, 9-11, 8).

D’autres étaient partis d’un enseignement décrivant le bon comportement social à travers des séries de prohibitions et de prescriptions. Ils en avaient dissocié l’unité en le farcissant, pour ainsi dire, de pièces rapportées vantant la profession de scribe. Ils avaient réassuré – tant bien que mal ! – la cohérence de l’ensemble en tant qu’apologie de l’écrit grâce à un refrain proclamant le lien entre bon comportement social et maîtrise des textes. Autrement dit, voici comment fut créée une composition nouvelle en reconfigurant à force d’interpolations un texte ancien de manière à lui surajouter une finalité qui n’était pas sa prime finalité (pChester-Beatty IV).

Dans le maniement des idées, les scribes savaient mettre en oeuvre un peu de casuistique, voire de sophisme. Une même notion, la prédestination du destin social, pouvait tour à tour être révoquée ou, au contraire, être convoquée dans l’argumentation en faveur de la profession de scribe. Elle était révoquée quand on faisait valoir que la maîtrise de l’écrit permettait de surmonter le handicap dû à l’origine, pour peu qu’on la mît au service du pharaon (éthique loyaliste) ou du dieu personnel (éthique de la piété). Au contraire, la prédestination était convoquée quand était proclamée inéluctable la réussite sociale de qui était voué dès la naissance à devenir scribe (Enseignement d’un homme à son fils ; Enseignement de Chéty ; pChester Beatty IV).

Bach, J. — From the armory of narrative art: the intertextuality of mythological epics in ancient Mesopotamia

Although intertextuality is a hallmark of Ancient Near Eastern literary research since many decades, the concept has been neither consistently addressed nor theoretically and pragmatically formalized in Assyriological research until very recently. One of the key works on this matter appeared in the beginning of 2020, when Selena Wisnom (Oxford) published the revised version of her doctoral thesis as a monograph entitled “Weapons of Words”. Her study is devoted to the intertextual connections between Anzû, Enūma eliš, and Erra and Išum, three major Akkadian mythological epics that are fundamental for accessing Mesopotamian religion and cosmology. Wisnom’s book significantly improves our understanding of the texts by showing as meticulously as elegantly how these works, one after another, adapt, re-actualize, and transform the contents of their mythological predecessors.

Wisnom’s approach is mainly concerned with the advancement of interpretations, and consequentially intertextual methodology and reading strategies are applied as tools in the classical hermeneutical sense. Nonetheless she also pays attention to structuralist matters, of which especially the book’s final chapter gives excellent testimony. This review article addresses issues and questions arising from Wisnom’s approach in a complimentary manner, yet from a structuralist viewpoint that is more concerned with intertextual theory and the context of the discussed epics’ production. Most of the critical discussion which forms the first part of this essay focusses on Wisnom’s methodology and theoretical coverage. In the second part a few selected examples of Wisnom’s interpretations are discussed in detail, offering both affirmation as well as alternatives.

Niederreiter, Z. and A. Bácskay — Two new fragments belonging to the 16th tablet of the omen series Šumma ālu

The fragment of clay tablet MFA 1981.156, kept in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, since 1983,1) contains lines 1–14 of the 16th tablet of the omen series Šumma ālu on the obverse and a colophon known from Ashurbanipal’s library tablets (Asb. Type b) on the reverse. We also provide an elaboration of fragment Sm 1565, a duplicate of MFA 1981.156. Publishing both texts together is of prime importance, since previous research has identified Sm 1565 as the 123rd tablet of the Namburbi series. Of the section (lines 1–15) of Šumma ālu 16, this paper presents a Partitur which has five sources according to our present knowledge.

Noorlander, P.M. — The Neo-Aramaic Varieties of the Christians in Diyana

The Neo-Aramaic varieties of the Christian communities in Diyana, also known by its Kurdish name Soran, in the Soran district in North-West Iraq, closely resembles the Christian varieties of the Urmia region in Iran. In a number of fundamental respects, however, the Diyana varieties differ from their Urmi peers. This article discusses several of such grammatical features in which the Diyana varieties are distinct from Urmi, namely a) the assimilation of /l/ and /w/; b) metathesis of transitive verbal forms with the suffix -wa; c) loss of synharmonism with accompanying merger of unaspirated and voiced stops in originally pharyngeal contexts; d) sporadic fronting of originally back rounded vowels; e) incomplete palatalization of velar stops; f) distinct 3ms. bound person markers; g) the indicative preverb ʾi, and h) the form and function of compound verbal forms.

Shupak, N. — Images for Learning and Teaching Activities in Egyptian Wisdom Literature and their Contact with Biblical Wisdom

One of the most prominent hallmarks of ancient wisdom literature – Egyptian and biblical alike – is its use of metaphors and similes. This device was designed not only to adorn the text but also to elucidate and illustrate the topic at hand by comparing it with an object or situation well known to the audience. Metaphors and similes found in biblical wisdom literature have been studied quite extensively. Much less attention has been paid to their usage in Egyptian wisdom texts, however. Addressing this fallow field of research, the present paper was prompted, inter alia, by the recent publication of The Book of Thoth – an Egyptian sapiential work replete with metaphors and similes.

I focus herein on metaphors associated with the field of learning and instruction – a central theme of wisdom literature. Comparison with the biblical material helps sharpen and clarify the use of this device in the two corpora and answer questions such as: do the two cultures draw metaphors from the same realms of life? Are the affinities typological – i.e., general – or do they attest to contact or the influence of one culture upon the other? Were the imageries taken from a common cultural reservoir?

Following a review of the relevant Egyptian, biblical, and extrabiblical textual sources, I analyze the Egyptian imagery relating to learning and instruction, then comparing it with the biblical and extra-biblical literature. The findings evince that both cultures relate to the same general fields – educational motives, the attributes of wisdom, the way in which it is acquired, and the learning process. They also draw imagery from the same realms of life – nature, everyday life, customs and beliefs. The disparity derives from the differences between the two cultures in these areas of life. The parallel images – education as animal-training, marital relations as the plowing of fields, water as a symbol of female sexuality, the learning process as consumption, and wisdom/instruction personified as a woman – are universal typologies. While possibly growing and developing independently in each culture, they may also be drawn from a common Near Eastern reservoir.

Brubaker, D.A. — Manuscripts and memory: the fraught nature of an obvious investigation into the textual history of the Qurʼān

Recent years have witnessed a growing interest in Qur᾿ān manuscripts and qur᾿ānic textual criticism, bringing an underdeveloped topic, until recently the domain of a small handful of scholars, increasingly into view of a wider public. Here, I present some of the issues and interests that make this subject simultaneously so fascinating, yet fraught with emotional objections and road blocks. To illustrate the latter, in these pages I make brief reference to the reception of my small book Corrections in Early Qur᾿ān Manuscripts: Twenty Examples, including a review article that appeared in a scholarly journal soon after its publication. Then, I show and discuss some textual anomalies in manuscripts, before concluding with a partial roadmap of the current literary landscape in this field of study, describing some of what I imagine readers of Bibliotheca Orientalis may expect to see in days ahead.

Book reviews and announcements

Faraonisch Egypte, Assyriologie, Hettitologie, Aramees, Semitisch, Oude Testament, Archeologie, Arabica, Midden-Oosten, Islam, Varia



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