The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: EventsThursday, 30 November 2023, 18:00
Venue: Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften der Goethe-Universität
Bruce Wells (University of Texas)
»The Oblates of Eden: Babylonian Temples and the Untold Backstory of Adam and Eve«
About the lecture
Can anything new be said about the story of the Garden of Eden? Surprisingly, scholarship has overlooked the abundant evidence for how divine gardens were managed in the ancient Middle East. The best evidence for such management comes from the Babylonian temple archives of the mid-first millennium BCE. These records show that a particular type of temple servant—an ›oblate‹ (širku in Akkadian)—did most of the manual labor in the gardens or orchards that belonged to a temple but were said to be owned by a god. This lecture will show that the biblical story depicts Adam and Eve as oblates working in an orchard that belongs to the deity, Yahweh. Much of the story follows the basic protocols that governed the administration of temple-owned orchards in Babylonia. This perspective helps to answer key questions about the story. What does it mean for Adam to ›tend and keep‹ the orchard? Did Yahweh lie to Adam when he said death would be the consequence for eating from the Tree of Knowledge? Why does it appear that Adam and Eve do not die? And why are they sent out to ›work the ground‹? Fundamentally, these temple archives provide an opportunity to reconstruct important aspects of the knowledge that the Eden narrative takes for granted.
About the speakerBruce Wells is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas where he specializes in the study of the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. Wells earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University in 2003. For the next two years, he served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. From 2005–2018, Wells taught in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. During that time, he served for four years as co-Principal Investigator on the NEH-funded collaborative research project, »Neo-Babylonian Trial Procedure,« as a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich from 2008–2009, and as chair of the Biblical Law Section of the Society of Biblical Literature from 2011–2015. He is the author of The Law of Testimony in the Pentateuchal Codes (2004), co-author (with Raymond Westbrook) of Everyday Law in Biblical Israel (2009), and co-author (with F. Rachel Magdalene and Cornelia Wunsch) of Fault, Responsibility, and Administrative Law in Late Babylonian Legal Texts (2019).
AnmeldungFor better planning, please register by 27.11.2023 at:
firstname.lastname@example.org. We will process your registration but will not send you a confirmation.
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