The author analyzes its hitorical connotations and changes throughout the millennia 4th-2nd , all in the most exemplary academic manner. According to Jacobsen, basic to all religion is a unique experience of confrontation with a power not of this world, which Rudolph Otto called "Numinous", that is, a confrontation with a "Wholly Other" outside of normal experience and indescribable in its terms; at best, it may be possible to evoke the human psychological reaction to the experience by means of analogy, which may, in turn, serve as ideograms or metaphors for it. Mesopotamians experienced the Numinous as immanent in some specific feature of the confrontation, rather than as all transcendent. They saw numinous power as a revelation of indwelling spirit; that power was at the center of something that caused it to be, thrive and flourish. In contrast, Christian religion is wholly transcendent in terms of the Numinous, as the supreme deity is completely distinct from its tools, e. This process phenomenon , called intrasitiveness, can best be illustrated with an example of a deity Dumuzi, the power of fertility and new life in the spring.

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Jacobsen has succeeded brilliantly. His vast experience shows through every page of this unique book, through the vivid, new translations resulting from years of careful research. Everyone interested in early Mesopotamia, whether specialist, student, or complete layman, should read this book. It is, quite simply, authoritative, based on a vast experience of the ancient Mesopotamian mind, and very well written in the bargain. The Treasures of Darkness is almost entirely devoted to textual evidence, the more gritty sources of archaeological knowledge being seldom mentioned.

He introduces many new translations which are much finer than previous versions. As a literary work combining sensibility, imagination and scholarship, this book is near perfection. It will undoubtedly remain for a long time a classic in its field.

Many of these though not all are new even to the specialist and will repay close study. Gurney, Times Literary Supplement "A brilliant presentation of Mesopotamian religion from the inside, backed at every point by meticulous scholarship and persistent adherence to original texts.

The result is a thesaurus of new insights and of sensitive and authoritative translations of crucial passages from a vast number of Sumerian and Akkadian texts.

Hallo "A model of scholarly and humanistic interpretation—one which treats the ancient texts with the seriousness and penetration they deserve.

This is a masterwork of one of the great humanists and scholars of our age. The book begins with definitions of scope and terminology.

This is followed by lengthy expositions on the various periods in Mesopotamian religion, with copious illustrative translations added. Names and functions of the gods are defined and related to man and society. For the historian, cuneiform expert, the student of religion this work will be of prime importance.

Jacobsen knows the detail of religion garnered from archaeological remains as well as anyone. But better than most and with some daring, he organizes the evidences and comes up with valid definitions of religion and classifications of motifs having to do with deity in various epochs.

Will serve to correct many an impression about the origins of civilization. Unquestionably Jacobsen here illuminates a dark area of human experience. An introductory chapter provides a definitions and a framework.

An epilogue deals briefly with the first millennium. Individual chapters focus on the fertility cult, the cosmos as polity, individual divine figures, personal religion, the creation epic, and the Gilgamesh epic. Well written, with an abundance of sensitive translations from the originals. There are many details showing remarkable insight which cannot be mentioned in a short review. And Professor Jacobsen can write!

Not only does his prose flow smoothly, the poetry—the book abounds with translations of Sumerian and Akkadian poetry into English—is in that wonderful style for which the author has become famous. The presentation is also not interrupted by numerous footnotes and learned excursuses, a trap which Jacobsen consciously and wisely avoided. For these reasons the book under review deserves, and no doubt will win, a much wider readership than students of ancient near eastern thought.

Work on Mesopotamian religion will be immeasurably advanced by the appearance of this fascinating book. Fagan, History "The self-recorded continuum of endogenous cultural achievement in Mesopotamia spans four millennia, from the origins of urban literate society to the end of the first millennia B. A span such as this understandably attracts a variety of researchers, intent on illuminating a variety of cultural and historical problems within the cuneiform record.

The most difficult of these problems is surely Mesopotamian religion, for its investigator must not only be the master of the literal content of the extant Sumerian and Akkadian documents but must understand, as well, their intent and social context. Thorkild Jacobsen, master Assyriologist and tireless investigator of the Mesopotamian past, now presents his unique synthesis.


The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion



Thorkild Jacobsen


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