Mesopotamia and Israel

John Casey

in After Lives

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780195092950
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199869732 | DOI:
Mesopotamia and Israel

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This chapter discusses the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Book of Job. The former, which should be considered as a tragic drama and at the same time an example of wisdom literature, can be seen as an example of ancient humanism, for it both explores a temptation to hope for immortality, and rebukes that temptation, depicting it as a failure of true human wisdom, and a failure to understand the rational consolations of life. The Book of Job is also a tragic drama, with absurdist elements, which does not attempt to solve intellectually the problem of evil and injustice, but to confront it. Both works present imaginatively experience which has a depth of reality that in effect excludes hope for immortality.

Keywords: Gilgamesh; wisdom literature; humanism; mortality; rational consolation; Job; tragic drama; justice; absurdism

Chapter.  9876 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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