The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: EventsThursday, 02 November 2023, 11:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University
Guido Pfeifer (Goethe University)
»The Human Capital of Religious Worship – Consecration of Lay Personnel to Temples in Babylonia and the Mediterranean in the First Millennium BC«
In a broader framework, the project investigates the socio-economic significance of the ordination of people who have been used as non-priestly workers in temples. The epistemological interest extends both to the reasons and motives of the consecrations, as well as to the legal instruments that were used, namely in the form of the release of those subject to violence. The starting point of the study is Mesopotamia in the Neo-Babylonian period (middle of the first millennium BC), followed by a look at adjacent and later cultures of the Mediterranean region.
So far, most researchers have focused primarily on the priesthood (Waerzeggers 2010, Still 2019). Although there are fundamental works from the past on the temple-dependent laity (Dougherty 1923, Mendelsohn 1949, Dandamaev 1984), they all refer to the slave status of these persons. A more recent study (Ragen 20006) is based on different premises, insofar as temple members are regarded as free persons whose services to the state are mediated by the temple. However, this approach cannot explain the contradiction between release or free status on the one hand, the socially low position at the temple and the continued dependence of service with the former owner on the other. Against this background, it is necessary to re-evaluate the entire Neo-Babylonian evidence (Wunsch/Magdalene 2014). A first step will be a genuine legal-historical indexing of the relevant text material, another the broadening of the perspectives on the ordination of persons to temples and on the juridical and social position of non-priestly temple dependents. From this, important explanatory patterns can be derived for the understanding of these and similar institutions throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Against this background, the investigation of the phenomenon on an interdisciplinary as well as cross-epochal basis promises considerable potential for knowledge.
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