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By Society of Biblical Literature / 2002/
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Prayers are among the most personal and imaginative among Hittite texts. Rich in metaphors and similes, they provide the best insight into Hittite contemplative thinking and philosophy of life. In the face of grave illness, the death of a loved one, or an impending military catastrophe, those in crisis disregard the conventional rules of prudent phrasing and cry out from the bottom of their hearts for deliverance and for a better comprehension of their world.
The two dozen royal prayers translated in this volume are grouped in chronological and thematic order: from the earliest invocations and the first personal prayers of the early Hittite Empire (Kantuzili), through the elaborate prayers of Mursili II and Muwatalli II, to the markedly “political” prayers of Hattusili III and his queen Puduhepa. Besides a rich source for Hittite theology and literary styles, these prayers contain important, sometimes even singular, historical information missing from the usual types of historiographic writing. Babylonian and Hurrian prototypes influenced the early development of the genre, but it soon developed its own creative style, which may also serve as an additional source of comparison with biblical prayers.
Itamar Singer is Professor of Northwest Semitics in The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, which is where he received his Ph.D. in 1974. His other interests lie in Ugaritic/Hebrew poetry, epistolography, and ritual. He is the author of Handbook of Ancient Hebrew Letters.