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'Angelology' In The Epic of Gilgamesh

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image of Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions

The Epic of Gilgamesh has been interpreted by Th. Jacobsen and his followers primarily as the story of a hero who struggles beyond his capacity to find immortality, gets disappointed, and finally faces the truth, maturing and turning to 'normality' on the premise that it is his achievements and not himself that will last. The present paper challenges a literal reading of the plot of the Epic along these lines, and through select comparison with the ancient Egyptian, 'heterodox' Hebrew, Iranian, and Gnostic traditions, argues that the meaning system embedded in the Epic can be thought to point to notions of 'mysticism' and 'soteriology', expressed in a distinctively Mesopotamian idiom that suppresses an explicit display of such concepts.


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