2014 | 15(4) |
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THE IDEA OF MAN AND DIVINITY IN ANTIQUITY PART II: Mesopotamian Divination. Some Historical, Religious and Anthropological Remarks

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Divination was a salient characteristic of Mesopotamian civilization. Divination was basedon the idea that to some extent the future is pre-determined; but that the gods, especiallyShamash and Adad (“Shamash, lord of the judgment, Adad, lord of the inspection”), havemade available to man certain indications of the future (omens and portents) in the worldaround him, which can be interpreted (divined) by experts with specialist knowledge. Ea,along with these two gods, was credited as one of the founders of divination. The future ascrystallized in the present was not considered by the Babylonians as solely a creation of thegods but as the result of a dialogue between man and god. The Mesopotamians believedthat the gods wrote the future into the universe, and that this is why the world could beread by those who were wise enough (certain priests and scholars). The organic body wasseen as a text. Specially prepared priests could explain the signs sent down by the gods(in Akkadian, the word pašāru means a multi-layered reading or decipherment of texts).Therefore, even if the gods founded divination, man played a vital role in the process andwas a vital link, a near equal and irreplaceable part of the process as a whole.
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