Previous research on Mesopotamian Flood traditions tended to focus on a few textual sources. How the traditions originated and developed as a whole has not been seriously investigated. By systematically examining a large body of relevant cuneiform sources of diverse genres from the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2600-2350 B.C.) to the end of the first millennium B.C., this book observes that it is during the Old Babylonian period (ca. 2000-1600) and classical attestations of the Flood traditions are found. On linguistic, conceptual and literary-historical grounds, the book argues that the Flood traditions emerged relatively late in Sumerian traditions. It traces different evolutionary stages of the Flood traditions, from the emergence of the Flood motif within the socio-political and cultural contexts of the early Isin dynasty (ca. 2017-1896 B.C.), to the diverse mythological representations of the motif in literary traditions, to the historicisation of the motif in chronography, and finally to the interactions between various strands of the Flood traditions and other Mesopotamian literary traditions, such as Sumerian and Babylonian compositions about Gilgames. By uncovering the processes through which the Flood traditions were constructed, the book offers a valuable case study on the complex and dynamic relationship between myth-making, the development of literature, the rise of historical consciousness and historiography, and socio-political circumstances in the ancient world. The origins and development of the Flood traditions examined in the book, furthermore, represent one of the best documented examples illustrating the continuities and changes in Mesopotamian intellectual, linguistic, literary, socio-political and religious history over the course of two and a half millennia.
Chen marshals impressive evidence from a wide range of sources. * Alan R Millard, Strata: The Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society * Chen has produced a marvellous study of Mesopotamian flood traditions that has obvious implications for Assyriology-not only for further studies on Mesopotamian flood literature, traditions, and terminology but also for the study of the development of literary traditions in Mesopotamian texts. The work also has implications for biblical scholars interested in flood traditions. This volume will become the standard starting point for anyone examining flood traditions in Mesopotamia but will also be useful for scholars interested in the historical development of ancient traditions. Especially helpful is Chen's integration of multiple methods for interpreting his data. This methodological integration might help scholars working in cognate fields (e.g., Egyptology, biblical studies) as they trace the history of the development of traditions in the texts they study.' Jeffrey L Morrow, Society of Biblical Literature One has to admire the industry, enthusiasm, and creativity with which Chen tackles the antediluvian puzzle. The author exhaustively compiles the sources, which are treated with philological acumen; he puts forward many interesting literary interpretations; and his main point about the rise of the Flood in the OB period is well established. . . . those looking to work with Mesopotamian Flood traditions would be wise to consult this monograph. . . . * Alan Lenzi, History of Religions * Chen's book is a very thorough and theoretically aware examination of the literary evidence for the flood in early Mesopotamian literature. * Andrew George, Journal of the American Oriental Society * Chen's book is one of the most original and challenging contributions to the study of the Flood story . . . Chen's study is a model of careful, judicious argument and presentation of evidence in support of a thesis, based on wide reading, clearly articulated assumptions, and deep reflections. . . Everyone interested in the interconnections of Sumerian and Old Babylonian Akkadian literature should give this remarkable and meticulously presented inquiry closest attention. Furthermore, any serious study of the Mesopotamian Flood story hereafter will have to give the evidence it presents, as well as its conclusions, careful consideration. * Benjamin Foster, Archiv fur Orientforschung *