The Mythology of Semitic, by S.H. Langdon. 1931 , PDF

The Mythology of all races volume 5: Semitic

The Mythology of all races
The Mythology of all races: Semitic


This is Volume 5 of The Mythology of all races. 


The subject of this book offered such great difficulties in the vastness of its material, in its contents, time, and geographical extent, in its significance as the presentation of the mythology and religion of those cognate races, on whose soil arose three great religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism, that the author has been embarrassed by the difficulty of selecting what is strictly essential. 


Since the notable effort of W. Robertson Smith to compass in a single volume the religion of the Semitic races in his Religion of the Semites (1889, 1894, 1901), in which the most important of all Semitic races, the Accadian, was almost entirely neglected, and the equally valuable survey by M. P. Lagrange, l'tudes sur les religions semitiques (1903, 1905), the material, especially in Cuneiform, South Arabian, and Phoenician, has increased to such extent that the whole subject appears in a new light. This book has been written almost entirely from the sources in the original languages, Sumerian, Accadian, Hebrew, Phoenician, Aramaic, Himyaritic (South Arabic), and Arabic. I

n the case of the sources in the last two mentioned languages, I have had from time to time the invaluable assistance of my colleague. Dr. D. S. Margoliouth, Laudian Professor of Arabic. On all important points, the specialists are requested to refer to the notes j more especially have I felt bound to state in these the philological reasons for arguments and translations based upon Sumerian and Accadian texts. Here the new material is so im- portant, and in some cases utilized for the first time, that the notes are necessarily numerous. In the translation of Sumerian and Accadian texts, a few peculiarities must be made clear to the general reader. Words in italics indicate that the meaning of the corresponding words of the texts has not been fully established. It may appear inconsistent to find both “ land” and “ Land” in the translations; “ Land ” is employed only when the Sumerian kalam-ma, Accadian matu, refer to the “ home-land,” that is, Sumer, Accad, Babylonia, Assyria. 

In this book, “ Accadian ” means the Semitic languages of Babylonia and Assyria, which are fundamentally identical. Sumerian is not a Semitic language, but no discussion of Semitic religion is possible without the Sumerian sources. This language belongs to the agglutinating group and was spoken by the earliest inhabitants of Mesopotamia. They founded the great cities of that land, Opis, Sippar, Kish, Nippur, Erech, Ellasar, Shuruppak, Ur, Eridu, Lagash, etc., long before 4000 b.c., and formulated the religious system which the Accadians adopted. The date of the entry of the Semites into Mesopotamia is uncertain, and it is even debatable whether they are not as ancient in that land as the Sumerians themselves. 

The entire evidence of the very early inscriptions proves that the Sumerians not only invented the pictographic script, which they developed into the more easily written cuneiform script, but that they already had a very considerable literature, and a great pantheon, when the Semites learned to write, and adopted their religion and culture. The new material, now rapidly increasing for the study of the most remote period of writing, tends to confirm this view of the origin of Babylonian and Assyrian mythology and religion. In taking a general survey of the whole field of Semitic religion, over the wide territory of Western Asia, and through the four thousand years and more in which it ran its course, it is clear that it can be classified into two large groups. The religion and mythology of all those Semitic peoples, which, by accident of geographical contiguity and cultural influence, came into contact with the advanced and affluent civilization of Sumer and Accad, Babylonia and Assyria, became heavy borrowers from that source. Sumero- Babylonian cults established themselves in the very midst of the old Canaanitish, Aramaean, Phoenician, Moabite, and Nabataean cults. The mythological conceptions of their own deities were assimilated to or transformed by the doctrines taught in the great temples of Sumer and Accad. Their legends and myths are almost entirely of Sumero-Babylonian origin. The cult of Tammuz, the lord of weeping and the resurrection, appears firmly established at Gebal on the shores of the Mediterranean at an early period. 

On the other hand, there is only the religion of Arabia, which remained entirely outside the mission of the higher culture and theology of Sumer and Accad. There are, then, only two great currents of mythology and religion in the Semitic lands — the Sumero-Babylonian of the east and north, and the Arabian of the south. In the great current of the northern stream are mingled many pure Semitic sources in the west. Some of their cults, notably that of Adad, actually influenced the mythology of Sumer and Accad. Of these two systems of mythology, the Sumero-Babylonian is Infinitely more profound and elaborate. 

Here alone great mythological poems and epics were written, which attempted to grapple with the problems of life, the origin of the universe, the relation of the gods to men, the salvation of their souls. In exposing the fundamental facts of the mythologies of the western group, the history of Hebrew religion is a unique element in the vast Semitic field. 

Although from the beginning and during its entire evolution the religion of this small Canaanitish people was constantly influenced by Babylonian mythology, they alone of all the western peoples seem to have understood the Import of the profound problems conveyed in the guise of the legendary poems and epic verse of Babylonia and Assyria. Converted into their own magnificent Hebrew prose and poetry and in terms of their conception of deity, Sumero-Babylonian theology and mythology found there their greatest interpreter and means of transmission to the religions which became the heirs of the ancient Semitic world. 

And it must be obvious to all unprejudiced minds, who have a clear view of the whole sphere of Semitic religions, that Hebrew religion stands entirely apart and reached a higher plane at the hands of “ Jehovah’s ” prophets. The author was bound to confine himself strictly to mythology in this volume. In the prophetic works of the Hebrew sources much mythology survives, and use of it may lead to the inference that their place in the history of religions does not differ essentially from the great poets and teachers of Babylonia. This is clearly untrue. 

The evolution of the Hebrew religion is unique in the history of the Semites. Some of the views and arguments in this book undoubtedly invite criticism. The quo warranto for all statements has been defined in the notes and elucidated in the text. 

After a long study of the Semitic and Sumerian sources, I have become convinced that totemism and demonology have nothing to do with the origins of Sumerian or Semitic religions. 

The former can not be proved at all} the latter is a secondary aspect of them. I may fail to carry conviction in concluding that, both in Sumerian and Semitic religions, monotheism preceded polytheism and belief in good and evil spirits. The evidence and reasons for this conclusion, so contrary to accepted and current views, have been set down with care and with the perception of ad- verse criticism. It is, I trust, the conclusion of knowledge and not of audacious preconception. To the editor of this series. Canon John A. MacCulloch, I am indebted for his valuable proofreading and assistance in editorial details. I feel that I have put upon him an unusual amount of labor in editing my manuscript, and I am grateful to him for his assistance. My friends, Pere Schell, Professor of Assyriology at the Sorbonne, Dr. F. Thureau-Dangin, Professor Zimmern of Leipzig, and many others have constantly kept me supplied with their books and articles before they were accessible in ordinary commerce. 

The works of these three brilliant scholars have been of special value in the elucidation of cuneiform religious texts. Of particular value also have been the voluminous and excellent copies of Sumerian texts by Professor Chiera of Chicago, and the vast erudition of Professor Bruno Meissner of Berlin and Professor Arthur Ungnad of Breslau. The copies and interpretations of religious texts by Professor Erich Ebeling of Berlin and Dr. R. C. Thompson of Oxford reveal they're great service in the preparation of this book by the numerous references to their copies in the notes. The numerous articles Rene Dussaud cited there mark a distinct advance in the interpretation of the religion of the Aramaeans and Phoenicians. In my renewed study of the entire religious literature of Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria I have often had occasion to ask for collations of and information concerning tablets in the British Museum. Mr. C. J. Gadd, Assistant in the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, has ever served me well with courtesy and accuracy. On matters, involving special knowledge of Egypt, Professor F. LI. Griffith and Dr. A. M. Blackman have supplied me with the necessary information.

Contents of the book:

Introduction xv
Chapter I. Geographical and Linguistic Distribution
OF Semitic Races, and Deities i
II. The Sumero-Accadian Pantheon .... 88
III. The Legend of Etana and the Plant of Birth i66
IV. The Myth of Adapa and Adam 175
V. The Sumerian Legends of Tagtug and Paradise 190
VI. Legends of the Deluge 203
VII. The Epic of Gilgamish 234
VIII. Legends of the Destruction of Men, or
THE Poem of Ea and Atarhasis 270
IX. The Babylonian Epic of Creation and Simi-
lar Semitic Myths 277
X. The Descent of Ishtar to Arallu .... 326
XI. Tammuz and Ishtar 336
XII. The Devils, Demons, Good and Evil Spirits 352
Notes 375
Bibliography 419
Index 433



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