Saturday, November 29, 2014

Curses in the ancient world

I just received a few books from Eisenbrauns (thanks, Jim!), including Cursed Are You!. I was still working at Eisenbrauns when I first heard about the title and was looking forward to reading it. As the foreword explains, it expanded in scope until it became a 500+ page book! That certainly explains why it is appearing 2 years after I left.

Anyway, here's a snippet from the Introduction:

For the ancient Near Easterners, curses had authentic meaning. Curses were part of their life and religion. In and of themselves, they were not magic or features of superstitions, nor were they mere curiosities or trifling antidotes. They were real and effective. They were employed to manage life’s many vicissitudes and maintain social harmony. (page 3)
<idle musing>
We don't understand that type of thinking very well, do we? We love to segment our world into a cause and effect, closed system, Newtonian world. Of course, we allow God in on special occasions, but other than that, we're practicing atheists (as I've stated many times before).

I just finished reading a history of the Jesus Movement (as I've mentioned) and one thing that he brings up repeatedly is that they believed God was real and imminent; the veil was down and God was active in our current world. That was unique in the world of the 60s and early 70s (I would argue it still is); Jesus People expected God to answer prayer. They expected God to supply in miraculous ways. And he did. Imagine that! You expect in faith and God answers...

That's the world that the ANE cultures (and Greeks and Romans, I might add) lived in. The gods were everywhere and curses were real. They could harm you.

The biblical world is a part of that, as seen in Proverbs 26:2: Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest (TNIV). Read Psalm 121 and remember that the sun and moon were gods...YHWH being your shield and protector wasn't just a metaphor to them. But I digress...I'm really looking forward to reading this book (as well as the other 3).

By the way, here's the full link to the book:

Cursed Are You!

Cursed Are You!
The Phenomenology of Cursing in Cuneiform and Hebrew Texts

by Anne Marie Kitz
Eisenbrauns, 2014
Pp. xii + 524, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
ISBN: 9781575062716
List Price: $59.50
Your Price: $53.55
</idle musing>

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