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Extra resources for Akkadian Prayers and Hymns: An Introduction

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Nevertheless, attending to these other features—and therefore adjusting the definition of prayer in light of them—is important in order to avoid a truncated understanding of Mesopotamian prayer and praise. 26 Further, a definition of Mesopotamian prayer should avoid making communication via words a central or essential feature. Obviously the verbal or textual side of prayer is important for the purposes of this volume. Yet this focus should not unduly limit one’s view of Mesopotamian prayer and praise.

Although an exhaustive listing is not appropriate here (in some cases, more detail will be presented when various kinds of prayers are introduced), the following are important general elements one will find in the texts. Mesopotamian prayers normally begin with an invocation of the deity by name, which identifies the benevolent supra-human being to whom the prayer is directed. Just as one might speak one’s friend’s name aloud in a group to gain their attention before conversing with them, the invocation is intended to get the supra-human being’s attention before the prayer continues on to other matters.

See Alan Lenzi, “Šiptu ul Yuttun: Some Reflections on a Closing Formula in Akkadian Incantations,” in Gazing on the Deep: Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Jewish Studies in Honor of Tzvi Abusch (ed. Jeffrey Stackert, Barbara Nevling Porter, and David P. Wright; Bethesda: CDL Press, 2010), 131–66 for the issue of legitimation formulae in incantations and an explanation of exceptional cases of these formulae in what the definition developed in this introduction would identify as prayers. 51 See, however, the variant MS containing a precative form of the verb, as noted by Abusch, in line 35, which, if accepted, would substantially change the meaning of the ina qibīt formula in line 36.

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