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Assyriology and Biblical Studies:
Time for Reassessment?


[1] Partly the result of writing an introduction to the Babylonians for non-specialists for an SBL series entitled "Archaeology and Biblical Studies," a title which itself is suggestive of the need to return to the issue of the relationship between these disciplines; Bill T. Arnold, Who Were the Babylonians? (SBL Archaeology and Biblical Studies, 10; Atlanta/Leiden: SBL/Brill, 2004).

[2] T. C. Mitchell, The Bible in the British Museum: Interpreting the Evidence (London: Published for the Trustees of the British Museum by British Museum Publications, 1988), 70, n. 33.

[3] Samuel Sandmel, "Parallelomania," Journal of Biblical Literature 81 (1962): 1-13.

[4] His famous lectures, "Babel und Bibel" were delivered 13 January, 1902, 12 January 1903, and 27 and 28 October, 1904.

[5] Bill T. Arnold and David B. Weisberg, "A Centennial Review of Friedrich Delitzsch’s ‘Babel und Bibel’ Lectures," Journal of Biblical Literature 121/3 (2002): 441-57.

[6] Benno Landsberger, "Die Eigenbegrifflichkeit der babylonischen Welt," Islamica 2 (1926): 355-72.

[7] Peter Machinist, "Assyriology and the Bible: Benno Landsberger's Eigenbegrifflichkeit Revisited" (Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, Ga., November 23, 2003).

[8] Private communique, February 26, 2004; and due partly also to the translation of it as "conceptual autonomy" in the English translation of 1976; Benno Landsberger, The Conceptual Autonomy of the Babylonian World (trans. Thorkild Jacobsen, Benjamin R. Foster, and Heinrich von Siebenthal; Sources and Monographs, Monographs on the ancient Near East 1/4; Malibu, Calif.: Undena Publications, 1976). Perhaps "distinctive conceptuality" is a better translation.

[9] For survey of the criticisms, and Professor Hallo’s response, see William W. Hallo, "Sumer and The Bible: A Matter of Proportion," in COS 3 (xlix-liv, esp. xlix).

[10] Hallo, "Sumer and The Bible: A Matter of Proportion," esp. l and liii. He thus defines his contextual approach as being made up in equal parts of comparison and contrast, and of setting the biblical evidence both in its vertical dimension as the product of historical kinship with precedents, or intertextuality, and in its horizontal dimension as an expression of the geographical context in which it is set.

[11] Hallo, "Sumer and The Bible: A Matter of Proportion," l.

[12] Jack M. Sasson, "About ‘Mari and the Bible’," RA 92 (1998): 97-123, esp. 98-99. Sasson, in turn, expressed indebtedness to Smith, Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianity and the Religions of Late Antiquity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 47.

[13] Sasson, "About ‘Mari and the Bible’," 98-99.

[14] Bill T. Arnold, "What has Nebuchadnezzar to do with David? On the Neo-Babylonian Period and Early Israel," in Mesopotamia and the Bible: Comparative Explorations (JSOTSup 341; eds. Mark W. Chavalas and K. L. Younger; London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), 330-355; this study differs from Sasson’s recent contribution in that he compared more specific phenomena between Mari and Israel (onomastic, lexical, idiomatic and ethnic comparisons), while I offered more general socioanthropological and institutional comparisons and did not restricted my overview to Mari; Sasson’s approach bares similarities with the earlier efforts of Abraham Malamat, who speaks of a typological approach in distinction to a genetic one (e.g., "Aspects of Tribal Societies in Mari and Israel," in La civilisation de Mari; RAI 15, ed. J.-R. Kupper [Liège: Université de Liège, 1967], 131; and cf. André Lemaire, "Mari, the Bible, and the Northwest Semitic World," BA 47 [1984]: 101-8).


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