Klagetraditionen: Form und Funktion der Klage in den Kulturen der Antike. Edited by MARGARET JAQUES. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, vol. 251. Fribourg, Switzerland: ACADEMIC PRESS, 2011. Pp. vii+ 110, illus. SF35.
This is a collection of papers read at a conference of the Swiss Society for Ancient Near Eastern Studies (SGOA = Schweizerische Gesellschaft fur Orientalische Altertumswissenschaft) held on September 26, 2009 at the Religionswissenschaftlichen Seminar of the University of Zurich. It contains five articles in German on lamentations in various ancient Near Eastern cultures (i.e., Sumero-Babylonian, Egyptian, that of Asia Minor, and biblical). Each contribution is about twenty pages long including a bibliography relevant to its specific subject.
In the introduction, M. Jaques explains the general purpose of the book and offers a brief presentation of each contribution (pp. 1-2). The German word "Klage" has two different basic meanings: 1) "lament, i.e., action and expression of one's sorrow or grief" and 2) "complaint as an expression of one's dissatisfaction by way of a legal action, i.e., lawsuit." Like the English word "lament, lamentation," "Klage" also refers to a literary genre as seen in the Old Testament, i.e., the Book of Lamentations.
Merely citing a dictionary entry, Jaques attempts to explain that both the action of wailing and lamentation as a literary genre are the main subject matter of the articles in this volume. I have no objection to Jaques' pragmatic approach, which sets an orientation in a succinct manner. However, because the action of wailing and the literary genre of lamentation are very generic notions, a short anthropological study offering an overview of "Klage" would have been very helpful not only for the wider public but also for the students of ancient Near Eastern studies to whom this book is addressed. A simple citation of a dictionary entry is rather too naive.
In the first contribution, Jaques discusses Akkadian personal laments and motifs employed in them in order to complain about one's dismay. In this section, she discusses "Dingir.s[a.sub.3].da[b.sub.5].ba-BuBgebete," i.e., prayers with the characteristic rubric "KA-inim-ma dingir-sa-da[b.sub.5]-ba gur-ru-da-kam (lit., um das 'verknotete Herz' des Gottes zu losen)" (p. 6). The texts she discusses in this paper were edited by W. G. Lambert in JNES 33 (1974): 267-322. (See now M. Jaques, Mon dieu qu'ai-je fait? Les digir-sa-da[b.sub.(5)]-ba et la...