The Origin Of Divination – Part 2

The other day I wrote about a text that sheds some light on how the ancient Mesopotamians understood the origin of lecanomancy and extispicy. In this post I’ll present another text that speaks to the origins of astromancy, physiognomy and a couple of medical omen series. Lambert called this text “a catalogue of texts and authors.” The text is K2248 plus several other fragments and possible duplicates. It’s K2248:1-4 that concerns me here. These lines read in Lambert’s, 64, restoration.
[a-ši-pu-tu]m : GALA-ú-tum : U4 AN dEN.LÍL
[alam-dí]m-mu-ú : SAG ITI NU.TIL.LA : SA.GIG.GA
[an-nu-tum] šá pí-i dÉ-[A]
[The Exorcist’s] Corpus; The Lamentation-priests’ Corpus; When Anu and Enlil;
[(If) a] Form; Not Completed Months; Diseased Sinews;
[(If) the Utterance [of the Mouth]; The King, the Storm(?), whose Aura is Heroic; Fashioned like An
[These] are of the mouth of Ea.
There is a scribe line before and after [an-nu-tum] šá pí-i dÉ-[A].
Of those texts listed as from the mouth of Ea only Not Completing the Months is otherwise unknown as a series title. Lambert suggests, 70, that it may have some relationship to Šumma Izbu, the birth defects omen series. While the full content of The Exorcist’s Corpus and The Lamentation-priests’ Corpus is unclear, they no doubt contained ritual material. The King, the Storm(?), whose Aura is Heroic and Fashioned like An are known epics. The remaining works are omen series of which When Anu and Enlil is the best know. It deals with astromancy, while others deal with physiognomy and, medical omens.
Of the several works listed in the catalog this is the only group attributed to a god. The others are attributed to the likes of Adapa and various magicians and scholars. Like those attribution to Ea, most attributions in the text contain ša pî, “of the mouth.” Lambert takes this to mean “author.”

The relationship of the texts to the authors is expressed in most instances by šá pí, “of the mouth”. Previously we hesitated to decide if this indicated authorship or editorship. In view of the occurrence on one of the newly found fragments (I 4), where various works are said to be “of the mouth” of Ea, authorship must certainly be indicated. No one would have described Ea as the editor of another’s works. The authors whose names are preserved fall into four classes: (i) gods, (ii) legendary and other humans of great antiquity, (iii) men without indication of family origin, and (iv) men described as “son” of an ancestral figure.

Francesca Rochberg, 419-20, suggests that we should think in terms of “authority” rather than authorship.

But the fact that Ea is the single divine name to appear in the list, and that moreover the text does not say Ea “wrote” Enuma Anu Enlil (using the verb šaṭāru) but rather that it was “of the mouth of’ (ša pî), that god, raises a serious question about divine authorship in the context of Mesopotamian literature. . . . [W]hat if we consider that authority can stem from authorship, but need not presume authorship. If Ea were regarded as the authority for the texts of ašipūtu, kalûtu, and Enuma Anu Enlil, because the knowledge contained in these corpora originated with him, it does not necessarily follow that he wrote the text. . . . I regard x ša pî DN in the catalogue of texts as evidence not for authorship, as we understand it, but for authority.

However, we understand ša pî, it is clear that our text attributes important works of divination to the god Ea. Whether on his authority or by his authorship is not so clear.

Lambert, W. G., “A Catalogue of Texts and Authors,” JCS 16:3, 59-77
Rochberg, Francesca, “Continuity and Change in Omen Literature,” Munuscula Mesopotamica: Festschrift für Johannes Renger (Barbara Bock, Eva C. Cancik-Kirschbaum, and Thomas Richter Eds.; AOAT, 267; Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1999), 415-425