I’ve blogged about the 19th century academic trend (one is tempted to call it a craze) referred to as Pan-Babylonianism before. In simplest terms, this was the era following the heels of the decipherment of cuneiform, which made the literature of the ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian civilizations accessible to scholars (and non-specialists). The impact was felt most quickly in biblical studies. It didn’t take too long for the notion that Hebrew writers of the Bible had appropriated their content from Mesopotamia. This perspective lost momentum after the late 1920s with the discovery of Ugaritic. Lo and behold, a lot of biblical material had closer parallels in Canaanite contexts (neighbors next door, not just in Mesopotamia).
The Old Testament shares parallels with ALL cultures of the ancient Near East. That’s no surprise since they all share the same regional geography and normative reasons for contact and cross-fertilization (war, trade, travel, etc.).
I’ve blogged a “non-scholarly” form of the article by Arnold and Weisberg linked herein,1 but wanted readers to have the more academic version. “Delitzsch in Context” focuses on the personality at the heart of the Pan-Babylonian trend, Assyriologist Franz Delitzsch. The essay begins this way:
This study, dedicated to Simon De Vries, is written in conjunction with a paper entitled ‘A Centennial Review of Friedrich Delitzsch’s “Babel und Bibel” Lectures’, presented at the November 2000 Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Nashville, by the authors. In the present paper, the authors propose to examine further two aspects of Delitzsch’s work:
1. What was the direct impact of ideas of German nationalism affecting Delitzsch at a time when he spoke before Emperor Wilhelm II? and
2. What were some of Friedrich Delitzsch’s Assyriological contributions as seen in their context of a century ago?
The essay is helpful for processing the era and the thinking. Or, with respect to this blog, an out of date resource pool for ancient astronaut theory (e.g., Zecharia Sitchin).
- “Babel und Bibel und Bias,” Bible Review 18.1 (2002), pp. 32–40. ↩