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The Storm-Gods of the Ancient Near East: Summary, Synthesis, Recent Studies

Part I

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In many regions of the ancient Near East, not least in Upper Mesopotamia, Syria and Anatolia where agriculture relied mainly on rainfall, storm-gods ranked among the most prominent gods in the local panthea or were even regarded as divine kings, ruling over the gods and bestowing kingship on the human ruler. While the Babylonian and Assyrian storm-god never held the highest position among the gods, he too belongs to the group of 'great gods' through most periods of Mesopotamian history. Given the many cultural contacts and the longevity of traditions in the ancient Near East only a study that takes into account all relevant periods, regions and text-groups can further our understanding of the different ancient Near Eastern storm-gods. The study Wettergottgestalten Mesopotamiens und Nordsyriens by the present author (2001) tried to tackle the problems involved, basing itself primarily on the textual record and excluding the genuinely Anatolian storm-gods from the study. Given the lack of handbooks, concordances and thesauri in our field, the book is necessarily heavily burdened with materials collected for the first time. Despite comprehensive indices, the long lists and footnotes as well as the lack of an overall synthesis make the study not easily accessible, especially outside the German-speaking community. In 2003 Alberto Green published a comprehensive monograph entitled The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East whose aims are more ambitious than those of Wettergottgestalten: All regions of the ancient Near East—including a chapter on Yahwe as a storm-god—are taken into account, and both textual and iconographic sources are given equal space. Unfortunately this book, which was apparently finished and submitted to the publisher before Wettergottgestalten came to its author's attention, suffers from some serious flaws with regard to methodology, philology and the interpretation of texts and images. In presenting the following succinct overview I take the opportunity to make up for the missing synthesis in Wettergottgestalten and to provide some additions and corrections where necessary. It is hoped that this synthesis can also serve as a response to the history of ancient Near Eastern storm-gods as outlined by A. Green.

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