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8. Ancient Mesopotamian Scholars, Ritual Speech and Theorizing Religion without "Theory" or "Religion"

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1. Title Title of document 8. Ancient Mesopotamian Scholars, Ritual Speech and Theorizing Religion without "Theory" or "Religion" - Theorizing Religion in Antiquity
2. Creator Author's name, affiliation, country Alan Lenzi; University of the Pacific;
3. Subject Discipline(s) Religious Studies; Ancient History
4. Subject Keyword(s) religion in antiquity; ancient religion; ancient history; classics
5. Subject Subject classification ancient religion
6. Description Abstract There is no word in the Babylonian language for “religion” or “theory.” This fact is not surprising since the scribes rarely discussed abstract concepts that we find useful for organizing our existence. For example, there is no general word for “music,” “law,” “art,” “science,” or “culture.” There are, however, many words for ritual speech, and there is very good evidence for how the ancient scribes classified and organized many of these texts they label as such by function and/or genre into series and ritual complexes. As J. Z. Smith has emphasized, taxonomy or classification is fundamental to cognition, and religions are powerful classificatory engines. This paper surveys the evidence for labeling and organizing Mesopotamian ritual speech, with emphasis on the Akkadian materials of the first millennium BCE. If there is evidence that discourse with accompanying ritual actions directed to non-human, non-obvious beings was labeled and organized distinctly from discourse directed to humans, might we see therein the beginnings of a tacit theory of religion, despite the absence of the words “theory” and “religion”?
7. Publisher Organizing agency, location Equinox Publishing Ltd
8. Contributor Sponsor(s)
9. Date (YYYY-MM-DD) 13-May-2019
10. Type Status & genre Peer-reviewed Article
11. Type Type
12. Format File format PDF
13. Identifier Uniform Resource Identifier
14. Identifier Digital Object Identifier 10.1558/equinox.27968
15. Source Journal/conference title; vol., no. (year) Equinox eBooks Publishing; Theorizing Religion in Antiquity
16. Language English=en en
18. Coverage Geo-spatial location, chronological period, research sample (gender, age, etc.) worldwide,
6th century BCE to 4th century CE
19. Rights Copyright and permissions Copyright 2014 Equinox Publishing Ltd