The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion

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Yale University Press, 1976 - Social Science - 273 pages
1 Review
"The Treasures of Darkness is the culmination of a lifetime’s work, an attempt to summarize and recreate the spiritual life of Ancient Mesopotamia. 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.”--Brian M. Fagan, History
"Professor Jacobsen is an authority on Sumerian life and society, but he is above all a philologist of rare sensibility. 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. . . . Simply to read this poetry and the author’s sympathetic commentary is a pleasure and a revelation. Professor Jacobsen accepts the premise that all religion springs from man’s experience of a power not of this world, a mysterious 'Wholly Other.’ This numinous power cannot be described in terms of worldly experience but only in allusive 'metaphors’ that serve as a means of communication in religious teaching and thought. . . . As a literary work combining sensibility, imagination and scholarship, this book is near perfection.”--Jacquetta Hawkes, The London Sunday Times
"A brilliant presentation of Mesopotamian religion from the inside, backed at every point by meticulous scholarship and persistent adherence to original texts. It will undoubtedly remain for a long time a classic in its field.”--Religious Studies Review
"A fascinating book. The general reader cannot fail to admire the translated passages of Sumerian poetry with which it abounds, especially those illustrating the Dumuzi-Inanna cycle of courtship, wedding and lament for the god’s untimely death. Many of these (though not all) are new even to the specialist and will repay close study.”--B.O.R. Gurney, Times Literary Supplement
 

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Contents

Dying Gods of Fertility
23
The Cosmos a Polity
75
Individual Divine Figures
93
Rise of Personal Religion
145
The Creation Epic
165
The Gilgamesh Epic
193
Epilogue
221
Abbreviations
241
Notes
245
Index
261
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