By Saul M. Olyan
A accomplished research of the ritual dimensions of biblical mourning rites, this ebook additionally seeks to light up mourning's social dimensions via engagement with anthropological dialogue of mourning, from Hertz and van Gennep to contemporaries comparable to Metcalf and Huntington and Bloch and Parry.
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Additional info for Biblical Mourning: Ritual and Social Dimensions
The fragmentary description of the burial of the Babylonian king Nabonidus’ mother and the mourning that follows (C. J. Gadd, ‘The Harran Inscriptions of Nabonidus’, Anatolian Studies, 8 (1958), 50, 52, with a translation on 51 and 53; Anderson, A Time to Mourn, 77 cites this example and Gadd’s article). 6 I 8, translated and discussed by Anderson, op. cit. 60–9 and many others). 19 IV 7–25). Finally, the Ahiram sarcophagus from Byblos portrays mourners (ANEP 459). These are but a few examples of materials from the larger West Asian cultural sphere that represent mourning practices.
Line 27 characterizes the underworld as a place of lamentation (tazzimtu). Other Mesopotamian texts associate mourning behaviours with the underworld. On this, see above, n. 13. At the turn of the last century, A. J. Wensinck had already argued that mourners ‘imitate the dead and take on the appearance of the dead’, though his explanation for why they do so—protection from an allegedly dangerous spirit—would ﬁnd few supporters today. For Wensinck’s views and for the quotation from his work, see Spronk, Beatiﬁc Afterlife, 245.
35 Though biblical texts do not make an explicit connection between the appearance of the mourner and the appearance of the dead, it seems very likely that the same correspondence applies, as Anderson suggests. Aside from taking on the appearance of the dead, there is also evidence that mourners imitate the movement of the dead to the underworld by means of a ritual descent of their own to the ground. ’36 This notion of ritual movement to the underworld by means of descent to the ground is closely paralleled, as scholars have noted, by the 35 A Time to Mourn, 75–6.
Biblical Mourning: Ritual and Social Dimensions by Saul M. Olyan