An Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamian Religion

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I studied ancient Mesopotamia as a secondary area of interest, and, until this point, I had yet to find a text which clearly and concisely laid out the basics in the way that this book does. I think non-historians could read it equally as well as academics and find it a smooth read. This book is an introductory survey of Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian religion from roughly the beginning of the Bronze Age in the ancient Near East to the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus.

In this survey, Dr. Schneider describes the religious practices and beliefs of this time and place at a high level.

Since scholars and archaeologists, whose knowledge base regarding ancient culture is limited to what was written down, preserved and discovered, she avoids discussing how the people felt about This book is an introductory survey of Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian religion from roughly the beginning of the Bronze Age in the ancient Near East to the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus. Since scholars and archaeologists, whose knowledge base regarding ancient culture is limited to what was written down, preserved and discovered, she avoids discussing how the people felt about their religion and how it affected their daily lives.

I respect her restraint.


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I have been studying the Old Testament book of Daniel and read this book in an effort to better understand the cultural and religious environment in which Daniel and his three friends find themselves. This book has been very informative for that purpose and has even exposed and corrected at least one misconception I had.

Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamian Religion : Tammi J. Schneider :

For example, 2 Kings 18 and Isaiah 36 both describe the same incident in which the representative of Assyrian king Sennacherib tried to intimidate Hezekiah, king of Judah, into surrendering. Obviously, the Assyrians saw their gods as stronger than the gods of their neighbors, as evidenced by their ability to conquer them.

I had assumed, wrongly, that the Babylonians had the same point of view regarding their own conquests. In one of these instances, the Assyrians chose to claim their god Assur as the chief god and to demean Marduk as a usurper. In other words, they interpreted their military successes as a sign of the strength of their gods, consistent with the biblical accounts. This is what exposed my misconception, and I found it very intriguing. The message of the Old Testament prophets, especially Jeremiah and Ezekiel, was that the Jews had sinned greatly against God and that the consequence of this sin would be conquest by Babylon and exile.

When God sent the people into exile, He did so with a promise to bring them back.

Mesopotamian Religion

He also sent them to exile in a nation whose own mythology would help to reinforce that message. My God never ceases to awe me. I know that the last paragraph is an application of what I learned from this book and does not necessarily reflect how Dr. Schneider might interpret the same data.

Customer Reviews

That said, I enjoyed reading this book of arcane historical information and found it quite enlightening. Oct 13, Dan rated it really liked it Shelves: biblical-studies , history-ecclesiastic , religious-studies.

Ancient Mesopotamian Religion

This was an interesting, brief introduction to Mesopotamian religion and the author did a good job balancing brevity and objectivity as far as one can in our modern context when discussing various topics. I enjoyed This was an interesting, brief introduction to Mesopotamian religion and the author did a good job balancing brevity and objectivity as far as one can in our modern context when discussing various topics.

I enjoyed the book. Jan 21, Christian Proano rated it really liked it. The book delivers what it promised: A brief introduction, however the vast bibliography presented, surely is helpful for those who would like to keep reading about the topics in this book. John rated it really liked it Mar 24, Isolde rated it it was ok Apr 24, Keitha rated it really liked it Jun 30, Samuel Viana rated it really liked it Apr 22, Allie rated it really liked it Mar 12, Alanna rated it really liked it Feb 01, Usha Appalaneni rated it really liked it Jan 09, Rituals were developed to ensure the smooth continuation of seasons and agriculture.

Our information comes from across millennia and from locations sometimes hundreds of miles apart. If this is a puzzle well over half the pieces are missing. We glimpse people like us, trying to survive. And some of the kings thought they were gods. The more things change, the more, it seems, they stay the same.

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Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia. Despite his cry not to write such a treatise, to some extent in the pages included under this heading, he proceeds to do so. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page.


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