The Book of Ezekiel and Mesopotamian City Laments. By DONNA LEE PETTER. Orbis Biblicus et Ori-entalis, vol. 246. Fribourg: ACADEMIC PRESS, 2011. Pp. xv + 198. SF 56.64.
Reading the Hebrew Bible in its ancient Near Eastern context is always revealing and opens dimensions in the biblical text that had hitherto been veiled. In this book, Petter argues for an understanding of the book of Ezekiel in light of the Mesopotamian city laments. In fact, she holds the position that this genre has influenced the work of the prophet. If I understand her correctly, she does not argue the Book of Ezekiel to be a city lament. She elaborates insights by Dobbs-Allsopp, who hinted at some thematic and verbal reflections of the Mesopotamian genre in the Book of Ezekiel. Petter tries to convince her readership that the full repertoire of generic features from the City Laments can be found in Ezekiel. In doing so, she argues against the view of Odell, who proposed that Ezekiel was based on the Babylonian inscriptions of Esarhaddon.
The first chapter (pp. 7-33) introduces the reader to the genre of the Mesopotamian City Laments. Petter presents the three categories in these texts: the historical city laments (The Lamentation over Sumer and Ur, The Lamentation over the Destruction of Ur, The Eridu Lament, The Uruk Lament, and The Nippur Lament), as well as the erfemmas and Wags. These texts display grief and sorrow provoked by the destruction of a city and show ways in which Mesopotamian traditions coped with the problem of evil. Dobbs-Allsopp has argued that these texts would contain the following nine elements: 1) subject and mood, 2) structure and poetic technique, 3) divine abandonment, 4) assignment of responsibility, 5) divine agents of destruction, 6) description of destruction, 7) the weeping goddess, 8) lamentation, and 9) the restoration of the city and the return of the gods. By giving examples for each of these features from the primary sources. Petter makes clear that she adapts Dobbs-Allsopp's classification.
Petter is not the first scholar to see connections between the Mesopotamian City Laments and sections in the Hebrew Bible. In chapter 2 (pp. 35-49) she refers to previous scholarship on the Book of Lamentation, the "oracles against the nations" in prophetic books, some Psalms expressing communal lament, the Book of Micah, and portions of Jeremiah 25. In these texts the nine elements mentioned above occur, although not always all nine in each...