The World of Berossos. Edited by Johannes Haubold; Giovanni B. Lanfranchi; Robert RollINGER; and John Steele. Classica et Orientalia, vol. 5. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2013. Pp. 332. 58 [euro].
Berossos is hardly a household name among Classicists and Assyriologists. When I published The Babyloniaca of Berossus in 1978, it was the first English translation in over a century and the first comprehensive study of Berossos since the publication of Paul Schnabel's Berossos und die Babylonisch-Hellenistische Literatur in 1923. Part of the reason for this neglect was the fact that Berossos' work survives only in fragments. The principal reasons, however, were twofold: the primacy of cuneiform texts as sources for Babylonian history and the general neglect of Hellenistic Babylon by historians of the ancient Near East at that time. The World of Berossos is clear evidence of renewed interest in Berossos and Hellenistic Babylonian culture. The extent of that interest is clearly indicated by the substantial bibliographies that follow each paper and the nineteen-page general bibliography that closes the volume.
The World of Berossos is the fifth volume in the series Classica et Orientaba and contains the Proceedings of the 4th International Colloquium on "The Ancient Near East between Classical and Ancient Oriental Traditions" held at Hatfield College, Durham on July 7-9, 2010. Like its predecessors in the series, the volume is devoted to the analysis and evaluation of the evidence concerning the ancient Near East provided by a Greek historian. After an introductory overview, the nineteen papers in The World of Berossos are divided into four groups, each containing four papers: Reading the Babyloniaca', Society, Religion, and Culture; Literary Contexts; and Transmission, Reception, Reconstruction. Running through all the papers are three questions central to scholarship on Berossos. First, do the fragments give a reliable picture of the Babyloniaca! Second, did Berossos significantly alter his sources in order to cater to the tastes of his Greek readers? Third, to what extent is it justified to categorize Berossos as either a Babylonian or a Greek writer?
The Overview consists of two papers. Johannes Haubold provides a general introduction to the main problems concerning Berossos and his work and outlines the main themes of the conference. In the second paper, Geert De Breucker, the author of an excellent new edition and translation of the...