Monday, January 27, 2020

Review of Scholars and Scholarship in Late Babylonian Uruk (ed. Proust and Steele)

THE BIBLICAL REVIEW BLOG: Review: “Scholars and Scholarship in Late Babylonian Uruk” edited by Christine Proust and John Steele (William Brown).
Christine Proust and John Steele. Eds. 2019. Scholars and Scholarship in Late Babylonian Uruk. Cham: Springer Press.

Scholars and Scholarship in Late Babylonian Uruk is part of the Springer series Why the Sciences of the Ancient World Matter, which builds bridges between the history of science in the ancient world and other fields in the humanities. With a wide range of subject matter, including mathematics, astronomy, astrology, ritual, and more, this volume works well in this series. After providing an overview of each chapter, I will consider ways that the contributions to this volume can contribute to conversations in religious and biblical studies. I will also comment on a few of the volume’s shortfalls.

I like to keep track of research on late ancient Babylonia, because it provides important background for Second Temple era Judaism. William Brown notes some points of interest for that field.

I will mention another connection. The volume is full of information on the āshipu clergy in late Babylonian Uruk. They were medico-religious practitioners who treated people for physical and psychological disorders. In the Bible, the book of Daniel mentions them as among the Babylonian religious functionaries whom Daniel and his friends opposed. The NRSV translates the word as "enchanters."

For more on the economy, religion, scribes, religious practitioners, and muddled Greek reception of late ancient Babylonia, start here and follow the links.

UPDATE: See the next post for more on the "enchanters" in the Book of Daniel.

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