THE IDEA OF MAN AND DIVINITY IN ANTIQUITY PART II: Mesopotamian Divination.
Some Historical, Religious and Anthropological Remarks
Krzysztof Ulanowski 1 1 - University of Gdansk MAeS 2014; 15 (4): ICID: 1138926 Article type: Original article IC™ Value: 3.00
Abstract provided by Publisher
Divination was a salient characteristic of Mesopotamian civilization. Divination was based
on the idea that to some extent the future is pre-determined; but that the gods, especially
Shamash and Adad (“Shamash, lord of the judgment, Adad, lord of the inspection”), have
made available to man certain indications of the future (omens and portents) in the world
around him, which can be interpreted (divined) by experts with specialist knowledge. Ea,
along with these two gods, was credited as one of the founders of divination. The future as
crystallized in the present was not considered by the Babylonians as solely a creation of the
gods but as the result of a dialogue between man and god. The Mesopotamians believed
that the gods wrote the future into the universe, and that this is why the world could be
read by those who were wise enough (certain priests and scholars). The organic body was
seen as a text. Specially prepared priests could explain the signs sent down by the gods
(in Akkadian, the word pašāru means a multi-layered reading or decipherment of texts).
Therefore, even if the gods founded divination, man played a vital role in the process and
was a vital link, a near equal and irreplaceable part of the process as a whole.