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Divine Causality And Babylonian Divination

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Chapter Summary

Sources for Mesopotamian divination are a reflection of the imagination, of culturally particular ways of imagining the connections between events, between phenomena in nature and society, and how phenomena bear meaning for human beings who observe or know them. Omen divination evinces a fundamental anthropomorphism, where what one calls nature is perceived as divine speech, matter turned expressive, meaning materialized in the world of phenomena. The crux of the omens lies in the relation between the antecedent P and the consequent Q. One of the more telling indications of the force of divine agency in antecedent/consequent relation is that the Akkadian term for the consequent is puruss (divine) decision” or “verdict.” Babylonian divination, and particularly celestial divination and astrology, was known to Hellenistic intellectuals. It is significant that Babylonian scholars sought to formalize their understanding of the gods judicial role in the cosmos in a vast system of conditional statements.

Keywords: antecedent/consequent relation; Babylonian divination; celestial omen; divine causality; Mesopotamian divination; purussû “



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