The Birth of Modernity: The Exilic-Utopian Imagination in Ancient Near-Eastern Narratives (The Epic of Gilgamesh and the Pentateuch)
In this chapter, I shall show that the idea of modernity is closely intertwined with, and defined in part, by the exilic-utopian imagination, and that both of them arose much earlier than it is commonly assumed. Indeed, their origins can be traced back to an archaic, oral mind-frame and its transition to a literate mentality. Furthermore, both the idea of modernity and the exilic-utopian imagination have, more often than not, served a mentality of power that has founded and held sway over most, if not all, of the large human civilizations known to have existed on our planet. At the same time, however, I shall show that the exilic-utopian imagination can transcend a power-oriented mentality and move toward irenic systems of values and beliefs—a perspective that is equally present, if only in a second register, in most of the ancient works I consider in this chapter.
KeywordsAncient Work Divine Nature Liminal Space Burning Bush Temporal Consciousness
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- 1.A good collection of these texts can be found in James Pritchard, editor (1950), Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar