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1002Re: [ANE-2] Parpola & the Assyrian Tree

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  • victor avigdor hurowitz
    Apr 4, 2006
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      On Tue, 4 Apr 2006, Tomas Marik wrote:

      >
      >
      > Victor Hurowitz wrote:
      >
      > >Dear Thomas,
      > >Just to clarify things, may I point out that although Parpola's first
      > >article is called "The Assyrian Tree of Life", he states at the end of the
      > >first paragraph "many scholars today prefer the more neutral term "sacred
      > >tree" when referring to the Mesopotamian Tree". (JNES 52 p. 161). In the
      > >rest of his article he refers to the Tree (capital T) or the Assyrian, or
      > >the Mesopotamian Tree. In his article about Gilgamesh's name he speaks of
      > >the "sacred tree". In any case, Parpola seems to steer clear of the "Tree of
      > >Life" which, of course, is a biblical concept designating one of the two
      > >trees in the Garden of Eden and serving metaphorically in some passages in
      > >Proverbs, and should not be transferred outside the Bible and its
      > >derivatives without specific warrant to do so.
      > >
      > Dear Victor,
      >
      > I don't see any reason, why not borrow from the Bible, which actually
      > has been done since long ago. "Tree of Life" sounds very good, "Sacred
      > Tree" a little bit empty. What more, the Eden story is a nice example of
      > demythologization, it destroys the common plot by explaining what the
      > trees are good for, fresh from the beginning.
      The problem is that unless there is explicit evidence showing that the
      stylized trees from outside of the Bible some how give life, there is no
      reason to impose this function on them. That having been said, I can think
      of two basic types of stylized trees: 1) trees which are being tended by
      genies or divine creatures either with or with out the well known bucket
      and cone; 2) trees which seem to be being eaten by animals. The later type
      of representation would be the type of evidence I look for so that I can
      call the trees "tree of life", although in any case I would proceed
      cautiously.


      This fits well into the
      > terminology of the study of religions. On the other hand, at least in
      > Akkadian and in Ugaritic we have trees that are qd$, quddu$u
      > respectively, which is often being translated as "sacred". So I don't
      > know, why "sacred tree" should be better.
      I think you made a mistake here and mean to say that "at least in Akkadian
      and Ugaritic we DON'T have trees that are qd$, quddu$u". That being the
      case, then the term "sacred tree" is used only because they seem to be
      objects of rituals or associated with recognizably divine creatures.

      > >
      >I doubt that Parpola would claim that someone who ate from the
      > >(Mesopotamian/Assyrian [Sacred]) Tree would live forever or be rejuvenated
      > >or become young in his or her old age.
      > >
      > >
      > I don't think it is impossible. By all means, the antithetical
      > composition, their artificial composite nature, interchangebility with
      > the king etc. clearly point to a comparable concept as the trees in the
      > Garden of Eden. While we can doubt, whether the Assyrian artistic motiv
      > was connected with any narrative at all, a connection with fertility,
      > life and abundance can safely be proven.
      Yes, I agree with that. And with all this, I still prefer to err on the
      side of caution and refrain from "biblifying" fro the time being.
      >
      > >Victor Hurowitz
      > >Dept. of Bible, Archaeology and ANE Studies
      > >Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
      > >Beer-Sheva, Israel
      > >
      > >
      > Tomas Marik
      > tomas.marik@...
      >
      >
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