Babylonian Creation and Flood Stories (1915)

A tablet from the Atrahasis Epic - a Babylonian account of the Flood.
A tablet from the Atrahasis Epic – a Babylonian account of the Flood. [Source: Wikipedia]
The following public domain article is now available on-line in pdf:

Theophilus G. Pinches [1856-1934], “The Old and New Versions of the Babylonian Creation and Flood Stories,” Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 47 (1915): 301-329.

The Old and New Versions of the Babylonian Creation and Flood Stories

Forty years have passed since the late George Smith published his Chaldean Account of Genesis, dedicated to Sir Henry Rawlinson, the great English pioneer of Assyriology. We all remember, or at least realize, what a sensation Smith’s discoveries made, especially the account of the Flood, which traversed the same ground, point by point, as the Hebrew version in Genesis. It was a triumph for our self-taught countryman, and we all know, moreover, to what it led-namely, the despatch of the enterprising Museum – official to the East, first for the Daily Telegraph, and later for the trustees of the British Museum. He was favoured with a fair amount of success, for he found a fragment which was at first supposed to fill a gap of the eleventh tablet of the Gilgames-series, which gives the story of the Flood in reality it was a portion of another version-as well as fragments of Creation-stories. His third and last trip to the nearer East, however, had fatal results, and he never saw his native land again. He had acquired, nevertheless, a large amount of chronological material, and Biblical scholars are his debtors for that as much as for his acquisitions in the realm of Babylonian tradition.

Though the two legends which Smith discovered were written in Semitic Babylonian-now known to be Akkadian-it was clear to all, from the names of the deities and other personages, that they were of non-Semitic or Sumerian origin. The Creation series, which seems to have been written on six tablets, later increased to seven, recorded how everything was at first created and brought forth by Tiawath,” the sea,” and Apsft, “the Deep” or “Ocean.” From these came an only son, named Mummu. Other primeval deities, however, were later regarded as the children of Tiawath-Laymu and Layamu: Ansar and Kisar, the host of heaven and the host of earth; and then came Anu, the god of the heavens (with, it may be supposed, his spouse Anatum). At this point the record breaks off, but Damascius supplies the wanting portion, namely, the information that the successors of Anu were lllinos (cuneiform Illila) and Aos (i.e., Ea or Aa). Of Illila, the god of the earth, the spouse was called Ninlila: and the spouse of Ea or Aa is given by Damascius as Dauke, the Dam-kina of the inscriptions. “And of Aos and Dauke,” adds Damascius, “was born a son called Belos, who, they say, is the fabricator of the world – the Creator.”

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“The Greek Papyri” by George Milligan

George Milligan [1860-1934]
George Milligan [1860-1934]
The following public domain article is now available in PDF:

George Milligan [1860-1934], “The Greek Papyri – with special reference to their value for New Testament study,” Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 44 (1912): 62-78.

George Milligan was an noted biblical scholar in his day as this extract from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography makes clear:

It was a notable pioneering achievement for Milligan to issue, while still at Caputh, a standard commentary on St Paul’s epistles to the Thessalonians (1908), in which among other things he applied the new papyrological evidence to a re-examination of the Pauline grammar and vocabulary. He began his great work, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament (1914–29), in collaboration with J. H. Moulton, and after the issue of part two in 1915 completed it single-handedly. Its comprehensiveness and accuracy provided a foundation for successors to build upon, while remaining readable and full of human interest.

I suspect that this lecture is little-known, but I hope that, like his other works, it will still prove of Interest today.

The Greek Papyri by George Milligan

The most significant fact in the modern study of the New Testament is the recognition that it has a history, and consequently that its several books can only be fully understood in connexion with their surroundings or the special circumstances that called them forth. Everything, therefore, that throws light on the outward conditions of the New Testament writers is of value. And it is just here that we are in a peculiarly favourable position to-day. In the past, archaeological discovery has been mainly concerned with the Old Testament, but now the light it sheds has been extended to the New Testament, and is largely derivable from the immense number of texts on stone, on earthen ware, and on papyrus which recent discoveries have brought within our reach.

It is only with the papyrus texts that we are at present concerned, and for their preservation we have to thank them marvellously dry climate of Egypt. The first finds were made at Gizeh as far back as 1778, but it was not until 1877, when several thousands of papyri were unearthed at Crocodilopolis, or Arsinöe, the ancient capital of the Fayûm district, that public interest was fully aroused. The work of exploration was afterwards extended to Tebtunis, Oxyrhynchus, and other likely sites, with the result that we have now thousands of these texts in our hands. Some were discovered in the ruins of old temples, others in the cartonnage of mummies; but the greater number were found in what were literally the dust or refuse heaps on the outskirts of the towns or villages. The old Egyptians, instead of burning their waste-papers, as is the custom amongst ourselves, were in the habit of tearing them up and throwing them out on these heaps, where, thanks to a covering of desert sand, they have lain in safety all these years.

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Everyday Life in Byzantine Lycaonia

The following article by Sir William M. Ramsay is now available in PDF. This material is in the Public Domain and so can be freely distributed and copied.

William M. Ramsay [1851-1939], “A Country Town of Lycaonia. A Description of the Conditions of Christian Life under the Eastern Empire,” Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 41 (1909): 36-46.

A Country Town of Lycaonia

My subject is an attempt to set before you some slight picture of the main facts in the life of a country town in the centre of Anatolia in the province called in ancient time Lycaonia, during the Byzantine Empire. Now we read a great deal in books, in ancient history, and in the history of the Church about that period, but historians concern themselves chiefly with great men, the great religious leaders, generals, and statesmen; with the rarest exceptions we find nothing whatsoever with regard to the practical facts of life among the common people in that country during the period when these great men were living and working. There is some literary material, which has still to be collected, with regard to the life of that period in the private letters of Basil and other great men, which give a great deal of material for the facts of ordinary life. The ordinary people made it possible for Churchmen to exercise their leading power, for generals to have .armies to conduct to victory or defeat; and without the knowledge of their common life, a knowledge of history becomes one-sided and misleading in the highest degree. We want therefore to know something of the common people, the way they live, their surroundings, their views of life, and how far they were affected by the great Church leaders, generals and statesmen.

The question may be asked with regard to the Byzantine Empire; Is it worth while to take up our time in making out some picture of a period rightly regarded as a period of decay in the history of the world? There is no doubt that Gibbons’ title, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, is correct. The fall was in great measure due to the pressure of what was going on in the Byzantine Empire, that is in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Two remarks will bring out the importance of life in the Byzantine Empire.

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