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Continuity And Change In Omen Literature

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the celestial omen texts, approaching this corpus from two sides, from outside and inside. By outside the author means the history of the celestial divination tradition as reconstructed, based upon the literary product of that tradition, the text Enūma Anu Enlil. Such an external history, outlines the chronological development of its manuscript tradition. The origins of formal written celestial divination, according to external history, are to be placed in the Old Babylonian period. The chapter considers whether the notion of divine authorship presumed by some for Enūma Anu Enlil is relevant to the origins of the text according to its internal literary history. It then examines whether the idea of divine origin of celestial divination was in fact relevant to the scribes commitment to the basic permanence and unalterability of the content of omen series, that is, their commitment to textual continuity over change.

Keywords: celestial divination; Enūma Anu Enlil; Old Babylonian period; Omen texts; textual changes; textual continuity



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