Akkadian Prayers and Hymns: An Introduction by Alan Lenzi (editor)

By Alan Lenzi (editor)

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A scripture [Matt 6:5–13, Luke 11:1–13; Deut 6:4–9; Sura 1], an official prayerbook, a 15 Critics Not Caretakers, x. Bruce Lincoln, “Culture,” in Guide to the Study of Religion, 416. See also his Holy Terrors, 5–7 for elaboration. ” This statement occurs in his section “Prayer as Act”; speaking is practice, too. , they do things). The very act of uttering the words of a hymn is to give honor, and the very act of directing words or petitions to a deity is to seek assistance. But there is more to prayer/praise as practice than an act of communication that may also give honor or seek assistance.

These may include prostration, raising one’s hands, kneeling, lifting up one’s head, facing oneself toward a temple, etc. as well as ritual acts 25 For the malevolent and benevolent character of some of these in Mesopotamian tradition from an iconographic perspective, see Anthony Green, “Beneficent Spirits and Malevolent Demons: The Iconography of Good and Evil in Ancient Assyria and Babylonia,” in Popular Religion (ed. Hans G. Kippenberg; Visible Religion: Annual for Religious Iconography 3; Leiden: Brill, 1984), 80–105.

Dominique Collon, Ancient Near Eastern Art (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), 60–62, with a photo of the famous Tell Asmar votive statues; on presentation scenes, see her Near Eastern Seals (Interpreting the Past; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 46–47. We should not neglect to mention the fact that some cylinder seal legends (inscriptions) contained actual prayers in Sumerian and Akkadian. Although probably not intended for speaking aloud, these inscribed supplications were “recited” with each impression of the seal.

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