The writing of the god of wisdom: internal structure and hermeneutic strategies in the omen series Šumma izbu

Réka Esztári – Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

A god, I reflected, ought to utter only a single word and in that word absolute fullness. No word uttered by him can be inferior to the universe or less than the sum total of time. (Jorge Luis Borges)

The aim of the present paper is to analyseactually, for the first time in Assyriologythe interpretative system and the organizing principles of a lengthy textual unit from an omen collection (namely, the introductory part of the teratological series known as Šumma izbu), which originally constituted an individual compositionand as such, was considered as a work inspired, or more properly revealed by Enki/Ea, the Mesopotamian god of wisdom. Indeed, this work proved to be unique thus far, since, as it will be demonstrated, the associations of its interpretative system do not only effect the internal correlations of the omen entries, but rather, the whole structure of the text, insomuch that it can be proved that each and every entry was generated from the former along specific associative principles (which were formerly called “hermeneutic associations” in scholarly literature but will be labelled as “written code” in here, since in fact they are based on the “Science of Writing”). In other words, we may observe that this composition as a whole, although for untrained eyes or scribes may seem to be an omen text listing various (but mostly rather odd) ominous phenomena, is an abstract, theoretical treatise which, as contemporary science could not be separated from religion, reveals the unknown parts of the cosmic system by means of the wisdom originating from the Apsû (the abode of Enki/Ea).