Abstract of Bloom, John Arthur. “Ancient Near Eastern Temple Assemblies: A Survey and Prolegomena.”

Bloom, John Arthur.  “Ancient Near Eastern Temple Assemblies: A Survey and Prolegomena.”  PhD diss., Annenberg Research Institute, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 1992. [Near East]

Abstract:  The bulk of this thesis consists of a compilation of Akkadian and Sumerian primary source material which gives insight into the ancient concept of the assembly, especially those assemblies which were held on temple precincts.

References to the assembly of the gods are reviewed for insights about its place of meeting, protocol, and how humans related to it. The most common meeting place was the ubsu-ukkin-na, a decorated courtyard with seats for the gods into which only the highest civic leader could enter to make petitions. Assembly protocol reflects that of a king meeting with his advisors or subjects rather than a democratic peer-group: In the epic literature we see strong leadership in the divine assembly exhibited by An, Enlil or Marduk, with decisions being affirmed by oath after a consensus is reached. More significantly, it is not unusual for the leader to simply issue a decree and have it affirmed by the assembly without apparent discussion.

Further, we found that the divine assembly motif does not appear in the earliest versions of several major texts from differing genres. This suggests that the behavior of the divine assembly does not accurately reflect a prehistorical human assembly protocol, as is sometimes supposed.

The majority of surviving references to human assemblies meeting on the temple precinct involve legal disputes (oath-taking and cases involving temple material or personnel) and administrative functions (the kinistu governing board). From the lack of evidence, it appears that the public had very limited access to the temple or involvement in its ceremonies.

As the bulk of this research consisted of contextual word-studies, several valuable clarifications of meaning for puhrum and its synonyms were deduced.

Full text available online through ProQuest.

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