"The Treasures of Darkness" by Thorkild Jacobsen

The Treasures of Darkness A History of Mesopotamian Religion Thorkild Jacobsen

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
10 Sep 1978
ISBN:
9780300022919
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
282 pages: 235 x 156mm

The Treasures of Darkness is the culmination of a lifetime’s work, an attempt to summarize and recreate the spiritual life of Ancient Mesopotamia. Jacobsen has succeeded brilliantly. . . . His vast experience shows through every page of this unique book, through the vivid, new translations resulting from years of careful research. Everyone interested in early Mesopotamia, whether specialist, student, or complete layman, should read this book. . . . It is, quite simply, authoritative, based on a vast experience of the ancient Mesopotamian mind, and very well written in the bargain.”—Brian M. Fagan, History
“Professor Jacobsen is an authority on Sumerian life and society, but he is above all a philologist of rare sensibility. The Treasures of Darkness is almost entirely devoted to textual evidence, the more gritty sources of archaeological knowledge being seldom mentioned. He introduces many new translations which are much finer than previous versions. . . . Simply to read this poetry and the author’s sympathetic commentary is a pleasure and a revelation. Professor Jacobsen accepts the premise that all religion springs from man’s experience of a power not of this world, a mysterious ‘Wholly Other.’ This numinous power cannot be described in terms of worldly experience but only in allusive ‘metaphors’ that serve as a means of communication in religious teaching and thought. . . . As a literary work combining sensibility, imagination and scholarship, this book is near perfection.”—Jacquetta Hawkes, The London Sunday Times
“A brilliant presentation of Mesopotamian religion from the inside, backed at every point by meticulous scholarship and persistent adherence to original texts. It will undoubtedly remain for a long time a classic in its field.”—Religious Studies Review
“A fascinating book. The general reader cannot fail to admire the translated passages of Sumerian poetry with which it abounds, especially those illustrating the Dumuzi-Inanna cycle of courtship, wedding and lament for the god’s untimely death. Many of these (though not all) are new even to the specialist and will repay close study.”—B.O.R. Gurney, Times Literary Supplement

"The Treasures of Darkness is a fascinating book. The general reader cannot fail to admire the translated passages of Sumerian poetry with which it abounds, especially those illustrating the Dumuzi-Inanna cycle of courtship, wedding and lament for the god's untimely death. Many of these (though not all) are new even to the specialist and will repay close study. There are many details showing remarkable insight which cannot be mentioned in a short review."—B.O.R. Gurney, Times Literary Supplement


"Here is the latest scholarly contribution by one of the foremost interpreters of cuneiform texts. The book begins with definitions of scope and terminology. This is followed by lengthy expositions on the various periods in Mesopotamian religion, with copious illustrative translations added. Names and functions of the gods are defined and related to man and society. For the historian, cuneiform expert, the student of religion this work will be of prime importance."—Library Journal


"Thorkild Jacobsen is the most brilliant of the small band of interpreters of Mesopotamian religion, and his new book naturally  brings a major advance in its understanding. . . . Work on Mesopotamian religion will be immeasurably advanced by the appearance of this fascinating book."—G.S. Kirk, Biblioteca Orientals


"The Treasures of Darkness is the culmination of a lifetime's work, an attempt to summarize and recreate the spiritual life of Ancient Mesopotamia. Jacobsen has succeeded brilliantly. . . . Everyone interested in early Mesopotamia, whether specialist, student, or complete layman, should read this book, one of the culminating works of Jacobsen's long career. It is, quite simply, authoritative, based on a vast experience of the ancient Mesopotamian mind, and very well written in the bargain."—Brian M. Fagan, History


"Jacobsen's imaginative survey of Mesopotamian religion will arouse discussion and interest. His book also contains valuable appraisals of many important literary texts, often accompanied by fine translations. Assyriologists will be grateful to have available this stimulating treatment of Mesopotamian religion by a distinguished Sumerologist."—Bulletin of SOAS


"Jacobsen has gathered  up a lifetime of research into the languages, literatures, history and archaeology of the Ancient Near East and used them to formulate a mature and comprehensive synthesis of what he conceives to have been the essence of the ancient Mesopotamian world view. The result is a thesaurus of new insights and of sensitive and authoritative translations of crucial passages from a vast number of Sumerian and Akkadian texts."—William W. Hallo


"A model of scholarly and humanistic interpretation—one which treats the ancient texts with the seriousness and penetration they deserve. This is a masterwork of one of the great humanists and scholars of our age."—Yochanan Muffs