The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion
The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion  -     By: Thorkild Jacobsen
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Yale University Press / 1986 / Paperback
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The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion

Yale University Press / 1986 / Paperback

Expected to ship on or about 10/21/17.
Stock No: WW022913


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Product Description

This book is the culmination of a lifetime's work, at attmept to summarize and recreate the spiritual life of Ancient Mesopotamia.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 282
Vendor: Yale University Press
Publication Date: 1986
Dimensions: 9 1/4 X 6 1/8 (inches)
ISBN: 0300022913
ISBN-13: 9780300022919

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Publisher's Description

The Treasures of Darkness is the culmination of a lifetime’s work, an attempt to summarize and recreate the spiritual life of Ancient Mesopotamia. Jacobsen has succeeded brilliantly. . . . His vast experience shows through every page of this unique book, through the vivid, new translations resulting from years of careful research. Everyone interested in early Mesopotamia, whether specialist, student, or complete layman, should read this book. . . . It is, quite simply, authoritative, based on a vast experience of the ancient Mesopotamian mind, and very well written in the bargain.”—Brian M. Fagan, History
“Professor Jacobsen is an authority on Sumerian life and society, but he is above all a philologist of rare sensibility. The Treasures of Darkness is almost entirely devoted to textual evidence, the more gritty sources of archaeological knowledge being seldom mentioned. He introduces many new translations which are much finer than previous versions. . . . Simply to read this poetry and the author’s sympathetic commentary is a pleasure and a revelation. Professor Jacobsen accepts the premise that all religion springs from man’s experience of a power not of this world, a mysterious ‘Wholly Other.’ This numinous power cannot be described in terms of worldly experience but only in allusive ‘metaphors’ that serve as a means of communication in religious teaching and thought. . . . As a literary work combining sensibility, imagination and scholarship, this book is near perfection.”—Jacquetta Hawkes, The London Sunday Times
“A brilliant presentation of Mesopotamian religion from the inside, backed at every point by meticulous scholarship and persistent adherence to original texts. It will undoubtedly remain for a long time a classic in its field.”—Religious Studies Review
“A fascinating book. The general reader cannot fail to admire the translated passages of Sumerian poetry with which it abounds, especially those illustrating the Dumuzi-Inanna cycle of courtship, wedding and lament for the god’s untimely death. Many of these (though not all) are new even to the specialist and will repay close study.”—B.O.R. Gurney, Times Literary Supplement

Editorial Reviews

"The Treasures of Darkness is a fascinating book. The general reader cannot fail to admire the translated passages of Sumerian poetry with which it abounds, especially those illustrating the Dumuzi-Inanna cycle of courtship, wedding and lament for the god's untimely death. Many of these (though not all) are new even to the specialist and will repay close study. There are many details showing remarkable insight which cannot be mentioned in a short review."—B.O.R. Gurney, Times Literary Supplement

"Here is the latest scholarly contribution by one of the foremost interpreters of cuneiform texts. The book begins with definitions of scope and terminology. This is followed by lengthy expositions on the various periods in Mesopotamian religion, with copious illustrative translations added. Names and functions of the gods are defined and related to man and society. For the historian, cuneiform expert, the student of religion this work will be of prime importance."—Library Journal

"Thorkild Jacobsen is the most brilliant of the small band of interpreters of Mesopotamian religion, and his new book naturally  brings a major advance in its understanding. . . . Work on Mesopotamian religion will be immeasurably advanced by the appearance of this fascinating book."—G.S. Kirk, Biblioteca Orientals

"The Treasures of Darkness is the culmination of a lifetime's work, an attempt to summarize and recreate the spiritual life of Ancient Mesopotamia. Jacobsen has succeeded brilliantly. . . . Everyone interested in early Mesopotamia, whether specialist, student, or complete layman, should read this book, one of the culminating works of Jacobsen's long career. It is, quite simply, authoritative, based on a vast experience of the ancient Mesopotamian mind, and very well written in the bargain."—Brian M. Fagan, History

"A brilliant presentation of Mesopotamian religion from the inside, backed at every point by meticulous scholarship and persistent adherence to original texts. It will undoubtedly remain for a long time a classic in its field."—Religious Studies Review

"Readers who are tired of secondhand and superficial treatments of Mesopotamian religion will do well to turn to this extremely systematic and thorough accounting by the master of the field. Jacobsen knows the detail of religion garnered from archaeological remains as well as anyone. But better than most and with some daring, he organizes the evidences and comes up with valid definitions of religion and classifications of motifs having to do with deity in various epochs. Will serve to correct many an impression about the origins of civilization."—The Christian Century

"The only up-to-date, book-length survey of Mesopotamian religion. . . . Unquestionably Jacobsen here illuminates a dark area of human experience. An introductory chapter provides a definitions and a framework. An epilogue deals briefly with the first millennium. Of the rest of the book, two thirds treats the fourth and third millennia, one third the second millennium. Individual chapters focus on the fertility cult, the cosmos as polity, individual divine figures, personal religion, the creation epic, and the Gilgamesh epic. Well written, with an abundance of sensitive translations from the originals."—Choice

"Easily the best of last year's books in this category."—Christianity Today

"This book is more than a badly needed scholarly tome on an esoteric subject; it is the quintessence of a man who is a scholar, poet, and philosopher all rolled into one, a man who has spent his entire life immersed in the subject about which he writes. And Professor Jacobsen can write! Not only does his prose flow smoothly, the poetry—the book abounds with translations of Sumerian and Akkadian poetry into English—is in that wonderful style for which the author has become famous. The presentation is also not interrupted by numerous footnotes and learned excursuses, a trap which Jacobsen consciously and wisely avoided. For these reasons the book under review deserves, and no doubt will win, a much wider readership than students of ancient near eastern thought."—A.K. Grayson, Journal of Biblical Literature

"The self-recorded continuum of endogenous cultural achievement in Mesopotamia spans four millennia, from the origins of urban literate society to the end of the first millennia B.C., and provides unique documentation for the succession of Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian peoples. A span such as this understandably attracts a variety of researchers, intent on illuminating a variety of cultural and historical problems within the cuneiform record. The most difficult of these problems is surely Mesopotamian religion, for its investigator must not only be the master of the literal content of the extant Sumerian and Akkadian documents but must understand, as well, their intent and social context. Thorkild Jacobsen, master Assyriologist and tireless investigator of the Mesopotamian past, now presents his unique synthesis. . . . With rare literary elegance Jacobsen interprets and presents new translations of the key metaphorical documents of the age, the enchanting Gilgamesh epic—'a story about growing up'—and the Enuma elish creation epic which concretized the position of Marduk as universal monarch. . . . Jacobsen's history . . . masterfully puts us in touch with the roots of our own metaphors."—The Yale Review

"Jacobsen has gathered  up a lifetime of research into the languages, literatures, history and archaeology of the Ancient Near East and used them to formulate a mature and comprehensive synthesis of what he conceives to have been the essence of the ancient Mesopotamian world view. The result is a thesaurus of new insights and of sensitive and authoritative translations of crucial passages from a vast number of Sumerian and Akkadian texts."—William W. Hallo

"A model of scholarly and humanistic interpretation—one which treats the ancient texts with the seriousness and penetration they deserve. This is a masterwork of one of the great humanists and scholars of our age."—Yochanan Muffs

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