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998RE: [ANE-2] Parpola & the Assyrian Tree

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  • Victor Hurowitz
    Apr 4 7:17 AM
      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.
      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.

      Victor Hurowitz
      Dept. of Bible, Archaeology and ANE Studies
      Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
      Beer-Sheva, Israel

      -----Original Message-----
      From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of
      Tomas Marik
      Sent: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 2:27 PM
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Parpola & the Assyrian Tree

      The 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

      Tomas Marik

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