997Re: [ANE-2] Parpola & the Assyrian Tree
- Apr 4, 2006The tree of life is (among others) a technical term and belongs to the structural theory of religion. This theory is based on archetypes, i.e. models that help to explain common features in the symbolism of various religions. To get an idea of what is meant, you may want to start with Mircea Eliade (it's repeated and explained in almost any of his publications, on the tree in particular see the relevant chapters in his Traité d'histoire des religions).
One of the most frequent assyriological arguments against a "tree of life" in Mesopotamian religion has always been the absence of an expression for it in Sumerian and Akkadian. If we bear in mind the theoretical nature of the term "tree of life" then it is much the same as saying there was no status constructus in Akkadian, since we don't have a genuine term for it.
Though the structural view of religion can be criticized, it offers a useful tool for interpretation. Yet nobody has tried
to apply it fully on Mesopotamian stuff.
Parpola's Ishtars and esoteric trees remind one of P. Jensen's monstrous Gilgamesch-Epos in der Weltliteratur, but the other side (philologists building up religion on attested words, rationalistic and naturalistic horse-sense interpretations) is stuck deep in the 19th century, if not deeper.
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