Tracking the Master Scribe: Revision through Introduction in Biblical and Mesopotamian Literature

Tracking the Master Scribe: Revision through Introduction in Biblical and Mesopotamian Literature

by Sara J. Milstein

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Overview

Tracking the Master Scribe: Revision through Introduction in Biblical and Mesopotamian Literature by Sara J. Milstein

When we encounter a text, whether ancient or modern, we typically start at the beginning and work our way toward the end. In Tracking the Master Scribe, Sara J. Milstein demonstrates that for biblical and Mesopotamian literature, this habit can lead to misinterpretation.

In the ancient Near East, "master scribes"—those who had the authority to produce and revise literature—regularly modified their texts in the course of transmission. One of the most effective techniques for change was to add something new to the front, what Milstein calls "revision through introduction." This method allowed scribes to preserve their received material while simultaneously recasting it. As a result, many biblical and Mesopotamian texts continue to be interpreted solely through the lens of their final contributions. First impressions carry weight.

Tracking the Master Scribe demonstrates what is to be gained when we engage questions of literary history in the context of how scribes actually worked. Drawing upon the two earliest corpora that allow us to track large-scale change, the book provides substantial hard evidence of revision through introduction, as well as a set of detailed case studies that offer fresh insight into well-known biblical and Mesopotamian texts. The result is the first comprehensive profile of this key scribal method: one that was ubiquitous in the ancient Near East and epitomizes the attitudes of the master scribes toward the literature that they left behind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190205393
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 10/07/2016
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sara J. Milstein is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in the Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations
List of Figures
Preface

1. Spotlight on Method: (Revision through) Introduction
I. The Transmission of Mesopotamian Literature
Advantages and Limitations of the Mesopotamian Evidence
Assyriological Studies on Textual Change
II. The Transmission of Hebrew/Biblical Literature
Advantages and Limitations of the Hebrew/Biblical Evidence
Recent Evaluations of Scribal Methods and Hard Evidence in Biblical Studies
III. The Scope of Tracking the Master Scribe
The Case Studies
Terms, Aims, and Methodologies

2. "Evident" Cases of Revision through Introduction
I. Revision through Introduction in Mesopotamian Literature
a. The Sumerian King List
b. The Epic of Etana
II. Revision through Introduction in Hebrew/Biblical Literature
a. The Community Rule
b. The Books of Esther
III. Conclusions

3. A Second Wind: Revision through Introduction in Adapa
I. Back to Eridu: The Revision of Adapa in Akkadian
The Middle Babylonian Version of Adapa (Fragment B)
The Neo-Assyrian Version(s) of Adapa
Continuity and Discontinuity across the Akkadian Tradition
Fragments A and D: Expansion or Elimination?
II. Which Way the Wind Blows: From Adaba to Adapa
The Tell Haddad Version of Adapa
Continuity and Discontinuity between Tell Haddad and Fragment B
The Tell Haddad Introduction and "South Wind Ending": Addition or Elimination?
III. Conclusions

4. Surpassing All Versions: Revision through Introduction in the Gilgamesh Epic
I. The Akkadian Huwawa Narrative and the Emergence of the Epic
Competing Sets of Logic in the Old Babylonian Epic
The Epic Act of Revision through Introduction
II. Surpassing All Kings: The Ugarit and Standard Babylonian Prologues to the Gilgamesh Epic
The Middle Babylonian Prologue to Gilgamesh at Ugarit
Standard Babylonian I 1-28 and Its Contrasting Features
The Two Prologues as "Revision through Introduction"
III. Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld and Tablet XII of the Standard Babylonian Version
Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld and Tablet XII
Tablet XII and Its Relation to Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld
The Absence of GEN 1-171 in Tablet XII
IV. Conclusions, or One More Circuit around the Wall

5. Delusions of Grandeur: Revision through Introduction in Judges 6-9
I. The Early Abimelekh Account (Judges 9:26-54)
The Antiquity of Judges 9
The Independent Logic of Judges 9:26-54
II. The Early Gideon Account (Judges 8:4-21)
The Independent Logic of Judges 8:4-21
The Parallel Nature of the Old Gideon and Abimelekh Episodes
III. New Backdrops for the Gideon-Abimelekh Block: Judges 6:1-8:3
Judges 7:1-22: Yahweh to the Rescue!
Judges 6:25-32: A Yahwistic Etiology for "Jerubbaal"
IV. Conclusions

6. Echoes of Saul: Revision through Introduction in Judges 19-21, 1 Samuel 1, and 1 Samuel 11
I. Competing Sets of Logic in Judges 19-21
Contrasts between Judges 19:1-20:13 and Judges 20:14ff
The Composite Nature of Judges 21
II. Shiloh and Benjamin: Evidence for an "Old Saul Complex"
The Origins of 1 Samuel 1 as a Saul Birth Narrative
The Links between Judges 21:15-24 and 1 Samuel 1
III. The Old Saul Complex and Its Polemical Recasting
The Unexplained Markers of Judges 19
The Inclusion of 1 Samuel 11:1-11 in the "Saul Complex"
IV. Conclusions

7. The "Magic" of Beginnings (and Endings)

Works Cited
Index of Authors
Index of Primary Sources
Index of Subjects

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