Cover image for Nocturnal Ciphers: The Allusive Language of Dreams in the Ancient Near East By Scott Noegel

Nocturnal Ciphers

The Allusive Language of Dreams in the Ancient Near East

Scott Noegel

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$74.50 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-940490-20-8

362 pages
2007
Distributed by Penn State University Press for American Oriental Society

American Oriental Series

Nocturnal Ciphers

The Allusive Language of Dreams in the Ancient Near East

Scott Noegel

This monograph seeks to understand the cultural context and function of wordplay as employed by ancient Mesopotamian dream interpreters and other divinatory experts. The author then aims to use this context to explain the presence of punning in Akkadian literary and epistolary accounts of enigmatic dreams. Noegel also examines the later appearance of Egyptian oneirocritic punning and explores the possibility that it represents intellectual exchange between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Building upon these observations, he then argues that Israelite, and possibly Ugaritic, literary reports of enigmatic dreams similarly reflect the punning hermeneutic and therefore also may share a mantic context, as well as possible Mesopotamian influence. Finally, Noegel traces punning oneirocritic strategy into other cultures and later times and texts, including early Greek and Talmudic literature.

 

  • Description
  • Table of Contents
This monograph seeks to understand the cultural context and function of wordplay as employed by ancient Mesopotamian dream interpreters and other divinatory experts. The author then aims to use this context to explain the presence of punning in Akkadian literary and epistolary accounts of enigmatic dreams. Noegel also examines the later appearance of Egyptian oneirocritic punning and explores the possibility that it represents intellectual exchange between Egypt and Mesopotamia. Building upon these observations, he then argues that Israelite, and possibly Ugaritic, literary reports of enigmatic dreams similarly reflect the punning hermeneutic and therefore also may share a mantic context, as well as possible Mesopotamian influence. Finally, Noegel traces punning oneirocritic strategy into other cultures and later times and texts, including early Greek and Talmudic literature.

Noegel’s investigation provides insights into a variety of subjects including the social context of divination and the production of literary texts, the role of writing and script in the divinatory process, the impact of Mesopotamian intellectual thought, the authorship of certain biblical pericopes, the relationship of oneiromancy to prophecy, and the function of ancient Near Eastern literary devices. In so doing, he draws attention to broader theoretical concerns that confront the study of the ancient world.

1. Introduction

1.1 The Goals of This Study

1.2 Previous Scholarship on ancient Near Eastern Dreams

1.3 Previous Scholarship on ancient Near Easter Wordplay

1.4 The Ubiquity of Mantic Puns

1.5 Punning in Dream Omens

1.6 Punning as a Divine Hermeneutic

1.7 Punning in Mesopotamian Literary Texts

1.8 Puns as Performative Indices of Power

1.9 Dream Interpretation as a Performative Ritual

1.10 The Ideology of Erudition and the ‘Literary’ Tradition

2. Enigmatic Dreams in Mesopotamian Literature

2.1 The Earliest Traditions

2.2 Gilgamesh and the Diviner’s Art

2.3 Enigmatic Dreams in the Epic of Gilgamesh (Old Babylonian Version)

2.4 Enigmatic Dreams in the Epic of Gilgamesh (Assyrian Version)

2.5 Utnapshtim and the Secrets of the Gods

2.6 Ideology and the Quest for Knowledge

2.7 Gilgamesh and the Performative Power of Narration

2.8 An Enigmatic Dream at Mari

2.9 Oracular Ambiguity at Ishchali

3. Enigmatic Dreams in Egypt

3.1 Puns and Performative Power in Egypt

3.2 Egyptian Oneiromancy

4. Enigmatic Dreams in Canaan

4.1 Divinatory Knowledge

4.2 El’s Enigmatic Dream

5. Enigmatic Dreams in Israel

5.1 Divination and Polemic

5.2 Puns and Performative Power in Israel

5.3 Mantic Discourse, Punning, and Lex Talionis

5.4 The Dreams of Pharaoh’s Prisoners

5.5 Pharaoh’s Dreams

5.6 The Dream of Gideon’s Enemy

5.7 Daniel’s Mantic Skills in the Court of Nebuchadnezzar

5.8 Nebuchadnezzar’s Second Dream

5.9 The Cipher on the Wall

5.10 The Dreams of the ‘Chief Magician’

5.11 The Power of the Interpreter

5.12 The Redactor and Mantic Knowledge

6. Possible Biblical References to Oneiric Punning

6.1 Allusive References to Dreams in Job

6.2 Jeremiah’s Complaint against the Oneiromantics

7. Oneiromancy in Early Greek Literature

7.1 Homer and the Near East

7.2 Penelope’s Enigmatic Dream in Homer’s Odyssey

7.3 Homer’s Puns of Power

7.4 Agamemnon’s Enigmatic ‘Message’ Dream in Homer’s Iliad

7.5 Near Eastern Influence?

7.6 Punning in Artemidorus’ Oneirocritica

7.7 Artemidorus and His Sources

8. Oneiromancy in Rabbinic Culture

8.1 The Punning Exegesis of Enigmatic Dreams

8.2 Rabbinic Mantics

8.3 Oneiromancy and Oral Torah

9. Conclusion

9.1 Freud and the Allusive Language of Dreams

9.2 Mantic ‘Literature’ and Its Devices

9.3 Dreams and Prophetic Visions

9.4 The Formative Role of Script

9.5 Dream Typologies

9.6 Summary

Bibliography

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