Jealous Gods and Chosen People: The Mythology of the Middle by David Leeming

By David Leeming

Esteemed pupil David Leeming, who has authored greater than twelve books on mythology, right here bargains the 1st entire narrative research of the mythology of the center East, that tumultuous sector that used to be the cradle of civilization. Leeming starts with a quick, attractive historical past of the center East, spanning Neolithic cultures, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, the discovery of writing and the increase of Egypt and Babylonia, Israel and Roman rule, and the early background of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. this can be via an in-depth dialogue of the mythology of the zone, overlaying person pantheons, cosmic myths, mythic heroes, and masses extra. Leeming levels from prehistoric figures reminiscent of the mummy Goddess of ?atal H?y?k to Mesopotamian gods akin to Marduk and mythic heroes akin to Gilgamesh, to the pantheon of Egyptian mythology, together with the falcon-headed sky-sun god Horus and jackal-headed Anubis. the writer additionally deals an illuminating exploration of the mythology of the 3 nice monotheistic religions of the area: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In a provocative Epilogue, Leeming depicts trendy problem within the center East as "violent, truly immoral, and unlawful activities" justified by way of "what can basically be referred to as myths." He notes that fundamentalists within the area's 3 religions all see their method because the in basic terms manner, forgetting that myths symbolize truths which are non secular and philosophical--not old occasions that may be used to justify acts of violence. With key maps, illustrations, bibliography, and index, Jealous Gods and selected humans offers an inclusive, authoritative, and attractive account of a mythology that continues to be a potent--and frequently destructive--force on the earth this day.

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Muslims ruled essentially all of the Middle East for several centuries after that. 28 TH£ H»*7"OA/*Ol/Vj> The Modern Period After the defeat of the Ottomans at Vienna in the seventeenth century, Muslim power was diminished. The advent of European colonialism occurred in the eighteenth century and continued on in various degrees until the years following World War II, when a still deeper rift developed between the Muslim Middle East and the West. With the formation of the state of Israel in what Arabs saw as their land, the rift became more profound and more specifically oriented.

For several millennia Mesopotamia had generally accepted the old Sumerian creation story in which the female aspect is positive and important, basic to the fertility and irrigation principles so necessary for the agricultural practices of the Sumerians. But now the storm god Marduk, the all-dominant male, would create a world out of the dead body of the defeated feminine power that had been Tiamat. In the context of the new Babylonian national priorities— including a determination to confront threats to their hegemony by people of the so-called Sea Land in the old Sumerian territory south of them—his victory and creation signify strong hierarchical power and male reason as opposed to a kind of irrational, watery chaos represented by the female Tiamat and the old ways (Frymer-Kensky, "Enuma Elish," 124- 26).

TH£ /AOV A^£ 19 Wars in Canaan The emergence of the Hebrew people in Canaan coincided roughly with invasions all over the Middle East of the Sea People mentioned above, who had much to do with the deterioration of both the Hittite and Egyptian empires and who in Canaan became known as the Philistines. It is of interest to note that the events of this period are roughly contemporaneous with those of the Trojan War on the western Anatolian coast, if such a war in fact took place. After destroying the city of Ugarit and other Canaanite centers and establishing their own state with cities such as Gaza and Ekron in what is now southern coastal Israel, the Philistines would gradually assimilate much of the indigenous Canaanite culture, including language and mythology.

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