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Le Papyrus de Nesmin: Un Livre des Morts hieroglyphique de l'epoque ptolemaique, vol. 10.

With the death of Jacques Jean Clere on June 5, 1989, Egyptology lost one of its greatest philologists and grammarians. A dedicated student and teacher, J. J. Clere made many and significant contributions to the field, his books and articles appearing regularly over a period of more than sixty years. His works cover a range of topics, among which are philological notes, textual criticism, editions of texts, and historical commentaries that span virtually all of ancient Egyptian history.

One of Professor Clere's particular interests was the Egyptian Book of the Dead. During his stay at The Brooklyn Museum as a Wilbour Fellow in 1967-68, Professor Clere undertook the first systematic study and evalf the Ugaritic version of what is known in Assyriology as the summa izbu series (omens based on births of malformed animals); of the very fragmentary Ugaritic text belonging to the same general genre but devoted to human births; of the single Ugaritic astronomical omen text; of an enigmatic text apparently dealing with some form of astronomical conjunction; and of a text referring to consultation with the deity Ditanu, here interpreted as necromantic.

Because Dietrich and Loretz have devoted their Ugaritological energies in the past to transliterating the Ugaritic texts (Die keilalphabetischen Texte aus Ugarit einschlie[beta]lich der keilalphabetischen Texte au[beta]erhalb Ugarits, Teil 1: Transkription, Alter Orient und Altes Testament 24.1 [Neukirchen-Vluyn: Kevelaer, 1976!; henceforth KTU) and to scores of relatively brief studies of various textual and lexicographic topics in Ugaritology, it is a pleasure to welcome this attempt at a more comprehensive view of a group of Ugaritic texts. It is also a pleasure to welcome the contributions from specialists in related areas of inquiry, notably ominology and astronomy, to the elucidation of these texts. The problem here is that unless the specialists are themselves Semitists, they are prisoners of the philological analyses with which they are provided (cf. below on RS 12.61).

The studies presented here are serious studies prepared by serious scholars, and as such they will be consulted for decades to come as important contributions to the elucidation of these texts. That being the case, one can only lament that the quality is not all that it should be. The two primary areas that users of these volumes should view with caution are those of epigraphy and comparative philology.

As regards the epigraphic basis for the studies provided here, it is on a par with what users of KTU have come to expect. (For detailed analyses, see the sign-by-sign comparative descriptions in my various epigraphically oriented publications.) As nearly as one can determine from the transcriptions, no new collations of the tablets were carried out for these studies (no information regarding this matter is provided in the preliminary sections), and one must conclude that new readings were reached by re-examination of photographs or were adopted from the epigraphic contributions of other scholars. Though Dietrich and Loretz have taken umbrage at my hypothetical explanation of the state of the texts in KTU (see UF 22 [1990]: 1-4, and the resolution of the matter in UF 23 [19911: 1-8), they have generally followed here my readings where such were available - even to the extent of including readings in their primary text which I proposed as largely hypothetical. (This is clearest in the case of RS 24.272: compare the text here, pp. 211-12, with the one I proposed in Les Textes para-mythologiques [Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 1988!, 180.)

In one case, that of the Ugaritic version of summa izbu, these authors were preparing their re-edition at the same time I was preparing mine (AfO 33 [1986]: 117-47). In the course of that edition, they came up with many new readings (appearing in the English version published in Maarav 5-6 [1990]: 93-97, but already perceivable in the translation of Dietrich and Loretz in "Ugaritische Omentexte," Deutungen zur Zukunft in Briefen, Orakeln und Omina, ed. Otto Keiser; Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments 11, Religiose Texte I [Gutersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1986], 96-99). They now adopt the most obvious of my readings which they had not themselves perceived (particularly those involving the ends of lines 9/10, 10/11, 45', and 47') but retain many of their own, based apparently on re-examination of their photographs. It is my duty to report here that virtually none of those readings stands up to scrutiny when the tablet itself is collated. It is also sad to report that I am occasionally constrained to consider a reading as based on blindness, owing to refusal to come to terms with whatf the Ugaritic version of what is known in Assyriology as the summa izbu series (omens based on births of malformed animals); of the very fragmentary Ugaritic text belonging to the same general genre but devoted to human births; of the single Ugaritic astronomical omen text; of an enigmatic text apparently dealing with some form of astronomical conjunction; and of a text referring to consultation with the deity Ditanu, here interpreted as necromantic.

Because Dietrich and Loretz have devoted their Ugaritological energies in the past to transliterating the Ugaritic texts (Die keilalphabetischen Texte aus Ugarit einschlie[beta]lich der keilalphabetischen Texte au[beta]erhalb Ugarits, Teil 1: Transkription, Alter Orient und Altes Testament 24.1 [Neukirchen-Vluyn: Kevelaer, 1976!; henceforth KTU) and to scores of relatively brief studies of various textual and lexicographic topics in Ugaritology, it is a pleasure to welcome this attempt at a more comprehensive view of a group of Ugaritic texts. It is also a pleasure to welcome the contributions from specialists in related areas of inquiry, notably ominology and astronomy, to the elucidation of these texts. The problem here is that unless the specialists are themselves Semitists, they are prisoners of the philological analyses with which they are provided (cf. below on RS 12.61).

The studies presented here are serious studies prepared by serious scholars, and as such they will be consulted for decades to come as important contributions to the elucidation of these texts. That being the case, one can only lament that the quality is not all that it should be. The two primary areas that users of these volumes should view with caution are those of epigraphy and comparative philology.

As regards the epigraphic basis for the studies provided here, it is on a par with what users of KTU have come to expect. (For detailed analyses, see the sign-by-sign comparative descriptions in my various epigraphically oriented publications.) As nearly as one can determine from the transcriptions, no new collations of the tablets were carried out for these studies (no information regarding this matter is provided in the preliminary sections), and one must conclude that new readings were reached by re-examination of photographs or were adopted from the epigraphic contributions of other scholars. Though Dietrich and Loretz have taken umbrage at my hypothetical explanation of the state of the texts in KTU (see UF 22 [1990]: 1-4, and the resolution of the matter in UF 23 [19911: 1-8), they have generally followed here my readings where such were available - even to the extent of including readings in their primary text which I proposed as largely hypothetical. (This is clearest in the case of RS 24.272: compare the text here, pp. 211-12, with the one I proposed in Les Textes para-mythologiques [Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 1988!, 180.)

In one case, that of the Ugaritic version of summa izbu, these authors were preparing their re-edition at the same time I was preparing mine (AfO 33 [1986]: 117-47). In the course of that edition, they came up with many new readings (appearing in the English version published in Maarav 5-6 [1990]: 93-97, but already perceivable in the translation of Dietrich and Loretz in "Ugaritische Omentexte," Deutungen zur Zukunft in Briefen, Orakeln und Omina, ed. Otto Keiser; Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments 11, Religiose Texte I [Gutersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1986], 96-99). They now adopt the most obvious of my readings which they had not themselves perceived (particularly those involving the ends of lines 9/10, 10/11, 45', and 47') but retain many of their own, based apparently on re-examination of their photographs. It is my duty to report here that virtually none of those readings stands up to scrutiny when the tablet itself is collated. It is also sad to report that I am occasionally constrained to consider a reading as based on blindness, owing to refusal to come to terms with what who wish to compare my readings of RIH 78/14 with those of the volume under review, I provide here a transliteration. It contains some improvements over that of the editio princeps (some of them found for the first time in Dietrich's and Loretz' transcription), but it agrees essentially with the first editors' transcription. For a full treatment, see my forthcoming edition of all the Ugaritic texts dealing with ritual matters (Les Textes rituels, Ras Shamra-Ougarit [Paris; Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations!).

Passing from epigraphic to philological matters, the primary problem here is with Akkadian etymologies for dubious or difficult Ugaritic words. Sometimes the authors adopt a weak etymology though they perceive its weakness, sometimes they propose an etymology with no apparent perception of its weakness.

Let us first examine the example of tt in RS 12.61:1 (KTU 1.78). Dietrich and Loretz now propose to explain the word by Akkadian sissu, "quiet," even though they recognize that the Akkadian word is a rare one (p. 57). Indeed, it is - not only rare, but never used of celestial bodies, and of uncertain etymology. It is far better to abandon so lame an etymological explanation and to see in the Ugaritic word simply the cardinal number "six." It is the authors' fixation with finding a reference in this text to an eclipse of the sun that has led in this case to an altogether implausible explanation of a key word in the text. We have here, in all probability, a reference to visibility over six days of Mars at sunset (if the equation rsp = Mars be accepted), as one may see from the following translation of the text on the obverse side of the tablet: "During the (first) six days of the new moon (festival) of the month of Hiyyaru, the sun set, with Rasap as her gatekeeper.(3) The contribution of the astronomers (pp. 281-86) can do no more here than follow the interpretation of the text as describing an eclipse of the sun, based on the translation provided.

In the case of the summa izbu-type text, Akkadian etymologies might appear more plausible, for in all likelihood the text was borrowed from a Mesopotamian source (though that source is presently unidentifiable: see Pardee, "The Ugaritic summa izbu Text," AfO 33 [1986]: 126-29). But in fact, where the meaning of the Ugaritic text is clear, the text appears to represent a genuine translation, for good Ugaritic terms with clear West-Semitic etymologies are used. When, therefore, the tablet is damaged or the general meaning is unclear, and proposals are offered to interpret the Ugaritic by an Akkadian term, the procedure is dubious. A clear example is the interpretation of {[] k bm) in line 55' by Akkadian kippu. Not only is the reading of the Ugaritic text uncertain (the sign is not certainly k): (r) is possible, and there is space for another sign before this one), but the Akkadian term is used in extispicy texts for an element of the entrails, not for an organ per se, and apparently never in summa izbu texts (CAD K, 400). Though the etymology cannot be absolutely ruled out, it must, therefore, be judged doubtful.

A more troublesome case is that of hr, linked to Akkadian irru/erru, "intestines." That word does appear already in the Old Babylonian summa izbu texts. This case is not, however, without an etymological problem, for the original first consonant of the Akkadian word cannot be determined with certainty (indeed, one Old Babylonian lexical text gives it as wi-ir-ru(m), see CAD I/J, 18 1; MSL 13, 104, 1.297). The interpretation of the Ugaritic text itself casts further doubt on the explanation. In line 54' the reading is uncertain, and Dietrich's and Loretz' reading and interpretation of line 58' dashes any confidence that one may have had in the idea (hr w sr bh, 'it has intestines and flesh' [taking sr as an Akkadian loanword, though Ugaritic sir exists! - an omen protasis without parallel in the summa izbu series and which would make no sense in such a context).

Another type of prop who wish to compare my readings of RIH 78/14 with those of the volume under review, I provide here a transliteration. It contains some improvements over that of the editio princeps (some of them found for the first time in Dietrich's and Loretz' transcription), but it agrees essentially with the first editors' transcription. For a full treatment, see my forthcoming edition of all the Ugaritic texts dealing with ritual matters (Les Textes rituels, Ras Shamra-Ougarit [Paris; Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations!).

Passing from epigraphic to philological matters, the primary problem here is with Akkadian etymologies for dubious or difficult Ugaritic words. Sometimes the authors adopt a weak etymology though they perceive its weakness, sometimes they propose an etymology with no apparent perception of its weakness.

Let us first examine the example of tt in RS 12.61:1 (KTU 1.78). Dietrich and Loretz now propose to explain the word by Akkadian sissu, "quiet," even though they recognize that the Akkadian word is a rare one (p. 57). Indeed, it is - not only rare, but never used of celestial bodies, and of uncertain etymology. It is far better to abandon so lame an etymological explanation and to see in the Ugaritic word simply the cardinal number "six." It is the authors' fixation with finding a reference in this text to an eclipse of the sun that has led in this case to an altogether implausible explanation of a key word in the text. We have here, in all probability, a reference to visibility over six days of Mars at sunset (if the equation rsp = Mars be accepted), as one may see from the following translation of the text on the obverse side of the tablet: "During the (first) six days of the new moon (festival) of the month of Hiyyaru, the sun set, with Rasap as her gatekeeper.(3) The contribution of the astronomers (pp. 281-86) can do no more here than follow the interpretation of the text as describing an eclipse of the sun, based on the translation provided.

In the case of the summa izbu-type text, Akkadian etymologies might appear more plausible, for in all likelihood the text was borrowed from a Mesopotamian source (though that source is presently unidentifiable: see Pardee, "The Ugaritic summa izbu Text," AfO 33 [1986]: 126-29). But in fact, where the meaning of the Ugaritic text is clear, the text appears to represent a genuine translation, for good Ugaritic terms with clear West-Semitic etymologies are used. When, therefore, the tablet is damaged or the general meaning is unclear, and proposals are offered to interpret the Ugaritic by an Akkadian term, the procedure is dubious. A clear example is the interpretation of {[] k bm) in line 55' by Akkadian kippu. Not only is the reading of the Ugaritic text uncertain (the sign is not certainly k): (r) is possible, and there is space for another sign before this one), but the Akkadian term is used in extispicy texts for an element of the entrails, not for an organ per se, and apparently never in summa izbu texts (CAD K, 400). Though the etymology cannot be absolutely ruled out, it must, therefore, be judged doubtful.

A more troublesome case is that of hr, linked to Akkadian irru/erru, "intestines." That word does appear already in the Old Babylonian summa izbu texts. This case is not, however, without an etymological problem, for the original first consonant of the Akkadian word cannot be determined with certainty (indeed, one Old Babylonian lexical text gives it as wi-ir-ru(m), see CAD I/J, 18 1; MSL 13, 104, 1.297). The interpretation of the Ugaritic text itself casts further doubt on the explanation. In line 54' the reading is uncertain, and Dietrich's and Loretz' reading and interpretation of line 58' dashes any confidence that one may have had in the idea (hr w sr bh, 'it has intestines and flesh' [taking sr as an Akkadian loanword, though Ugaritic sir exists! - an omen protasis without parallel in the summa izbu series and which would make no sense in such a context).

Another type of prop an exemplar from which a number of other extant funerary papyri were likely derived; the lack of any photographs, however, impedes the study of comparative paleography of Dynasty XXI and its development. (1) The text presented with full commentary in Mantik served already as the basis of two previously prepared studies by the same authors in the two works already cited above, the first containing only a translation (Deutungen [19861, 94-95), the second a transliteration and a translation (Maarav 5-6 [19901: 98-99). (2) The word does not appear too strong when one considers that 30% of the text proposed is not to be found on the tablet (18 lines instead of 14 and 210 signs wholly or partially preserved instead of 161, not counting word dividers). (3) For the astronomical side of the question, see D. Pardee and N. Swerdlow, "Not the 'Earliest Solar Eclipse'," Nature (forthcoming), and, for a full philological treatment, my forthcoming edition of the Ugaritic texts related to ritual, Les Textes rituels. (4) On the purely material level, the photographs published on pp. 275-80 are referred to in the text by figure numbers ("Abb. 5-10"), numbers which were omitted on the pages in question.
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Author:O'Rourke, Paul F.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Words:2987
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