Mesopotamian Šuilla Prayers to Ea, Marduk, and Nabu: Exegetical Studies

Author: Hunt, Joel
First published over a century ago, the Šuilla ("Raised-Hand") prayers have received little close study. This book focuses on the hymnic introductions of these multipurpose prayers as theological texts in their own right.


“What makes the strongest impression on the reader is the universal nature of prayer and the themes expressed, similar to what one finds in Psalms and other liturgical collections. Prayers reflect many aspects of human emotions, including thankfulness, awe, despair, guilt, and hope, which is why prayer remains such a fundamental component of our collective cultural heritage.” – Prof. M. J. Geller, University College London

“Hunt successfully demonstrates that a ‘hymnic-introduction’ of a Babylonian prayer has significance and are carefully arranged in order to build a picture of the god addressed that is relevant to the pleas, the main body of a prayer. The author sees praise to a god in a prayer as a gateway leading the ‘audience’ (in this case, a god) to the particular interest of the supplicant. A similar idea was already voiced by scholars like W. W. Hallo and Tz. Abusch, but Hunt’s new book is the first thorough attempt to test such a synthesis. Although his samples are not many, Hunt’s approach offers us a new guidance for interpretation of ancient religious works.” – T. Oshima, Universität Leipzig

Table of Contents

Foreword by Professor M.J. Geller
Chapter 1: Introduction
A. The Problem
1. Prologue
2. Point of the present study
B. Procedure
1. Sources of evidence
2. The nature of the åuilla prayers
3. Form of the åuilla prayers
4. Outline of Method
C. Past interpretations of åuilla hymnic introductions
Chapter 2: Ea 1a: Wisdom in Water and Word
A. Introductory Remarks
B. Hymnic Introduction
1. Thirteen Titles for Ea: ll. 1-6
2. Four Actions of Ea: ll. 7-8 and ll. 12-13
3. Three Reactions to Ea: ll. 9-11
4. Summary and Translation
C. Petition Section
1. Overview
2. Meaning
D. Final Call
E. Concluding Remarks
F. Text
Chapter 3: Marduk 4
A. Introductory Remarks
B. Hymnic Introduction
1. qarr?du dMarduk
2. åa ezËssu ab„bu
3. napåuråu abu rËmËnû
4. Summary
C. Petition Section
1. Complaint (ll. 3-6)
2. Protestation of Innocence (ll.7-15)
3. Petition Proper (ll. 16-29a)
4. Seven-fold Litany for Forgiveness (ll. 29b-39)
D. Final Praise
E. Concluding Remarks
1. The åuilla Hymn
2. The Relationship of Hymn to Remainder of åuilla
3. Historical Setting/Relation to Other texts 120 F. Text
Chapter 4: Marduk 18 and Marduk 28
A. Introductory Remarks
B. Hymnic Introduction
1. Content of affirmations
2. Arrangement of affirmations
C. Petition Section
1. Confession
2. Action of Petitioner
3. Petition
D. Final Praise
E. Concluding Remarks
1. Historical Setting/Relationship to Other Texts; Nergal 1
2. The Hymnic Introductions
3. Relationship of Hymn to Remainder of Prayer
F. Text
Chapter 5: Nabû 1
A. Introductory Remarks
B. Hymnic Introduction
1. Nabû's Character
2. Nabû's Word
3. Nabû's Reconciliation
4. Conclusion
C. Petition Section
1. Action of Supplicant
2. Complaint
3. Petition Proper
D. Final Praise
E. Concluding Remarks
1. General
2. Theme
F. Text
Chapter 6: Conclusion
A. The Hymnic Introduction as Hymn
1. Flow of the Hymn
2. Final Affirmation of the Hymnic Introduction
B. The petitions in light of the hymn