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Gilgamesh the Giant: The Qumran Book of Giants' Appropriation of Gilgamesh Motifs

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The Qumran Book of Giants shows familiarity with lore from the classic Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. It has been proposed that the author of the Book of Giants drew from the epic in order to polemicize against it. There is much to commend this view. The name of the hero of the tale is given to one of the murderous, wicked giants of the primordial age. Examination of fragments of the Book of Giants, in particular 4Q530 2 ii and 4Q531 22, however, suggests that key aspects of its portrayal of Gilgamesh the giant cannot be explained as polemic against Mesopotamian literary traditions. The Book of Giants creatively appropriates motifs from the epic and makes Gilgamesh a character in his own right in ways that often have little to do with Gilgamesh.

Affiliations: 1: Dodd Hall M05, Department of Religion, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, U.S.A.


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