In this formidable study, Jastrow compares several aspects of the religious life of the Israelites and ancient Babylonias by comparison of their written texts. Among the topics examined are the creation and flood accounts, the concept of the Sabbath, and the ethics of both cultures.
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Originally delivered as the Haskell Lectures at Oberlin College, Jastrow’s Hebrew and Babylonian Traditions encompass the scope of his learning. Much expanded from the original lectures, the chapters in this volume remain relevant today. Jastrow explored the relations between the Israelites and Babylonians (inhabitants of ancient Iraq), and compared their accounts of creation. These accounts include the Chaldean creation account and the Enuma Elish. Jastrow also explores and compares the Babylonian and Hebrew concepts of the Sabbath and their views on life after death. Concerned with the full religious life of the ancient Semites, he also delves into the comparative ethics of the Israelites and Babylonians and gives an account of their comparative flood stories. This latter includes a study of the famous Gilgamesh Epic.
Morris Jastrow, Jr. (1861-1921) was the son of the Polish-Jewish activist and scholar Marcus (Morris) Jastrow. Morris Jastrow, Jr. studied at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Leipzig, and Paris. He eventually became Professor of Semitic Languages at the University of Pennsylvania. He was one-time president of the American Oriental Society and wrote numerous books on Semitic topics.