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The generative paradigm in Old Babylonian divinationAbraham Winitzer
This dissertation explores the working of the organizational apparatus evinced in the Old Babylonian Mesopotamian divination collections from the divinatory technique known as extispicy (the examination of a sacrificed sheep's exta, or entrails: in the main the liver, but also the gallbladder, spleen, intestines, lungs, and more). The manner by which the organizational apparatus of the Old Babylonian divination literature is employed in the creation of the omen collections is termed in the present study the "Generative Paradigm," since it is argued that the diviner-scholars responsible for these collections became aware of the structure of a new system---a paradigm---by which they could generate new omens on the basis of preexisting materials as well as a number of organizational assumptions. This "Generative Paradigm" revolutionized the very notion of divination in Mesopotamia, turning an originally empirically based act of limited scope into a full-scale scholarly activity, with analytic, and perhaps even scientific, ideals. As we meet it in the collections, Mesopotamian divination is a sophisticated deductively based system for the assembly and gathering of information that would, or at least theoretically could be, all-encompassing. The analysis of the organizational apparatus is comprised of two main parts. The first (chapter 2) describes ordering mechanisms encountered within individual omens, focusing on exceptions to the standard casuistic sentence presented by complex protases and especially apodoses, those characterized by alternative hypothetical or interpretive possibilities. Alternation on this inner-omen level is demonstrated to be reflective of the broader generative undertaking. The second part (chapters 3-5) investigates the organizational techniques among units of individual omens, described as gradation paradigms. Two basic principles, viz., opposition and pointillism, are identified as the ordering mechanisms of gradation paradigms. It is demonstrated how according to these principles and various organizational groupings and sequences the diviner-scholar created portions of the gradation paradigms, generated others, and, in short, made up the bulk of the material in the omen collections.
Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Divination; Exstispicy; Generative paradigm; Mesopotamia; Old Babylonian; Ancient languages; Ancient civilizations; Science history; 0579:Ancient civilizations; 0289:Ancient languages; 0585:Science history
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