Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria

by Morris Jastrow | 1911 | 121,372 words

More than ten years after publishing his book on Babylonian and Assyrian religion, Morris Jastrow was invited to give a series of lectures. These lectures on the religious beliefs and practices in Babylonia and Assyria included: - Culture and Religion - The Pantheon - Divination - Astrology - The Temples and the Cults - Ethics and Life After Death...


T HE American Lectures on the History of Religions are delivered under the auspices of the American Committee for Lectures on the History of Religions. This Committee was organised in 1892, for the purpose of instituting

“popular courses in the History of Religions, somewhat after the style of the Hibbert Lectures in England, to be delivered by the best scholars of Europe and this country, in various cities, such as Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and others.”

The terms of association under which the Committee exist are as follows:

  1. The object of this Association shall be to provide courses of lectures on the history of religions, to be delivered in various cities.
  2. The Association shall be composed of delegates from institutions agreeing to co-operate, with such additional members as may be chosen by these delegates.
  3. These delegates—one from each institution, with the additional members selected—shall constitute themselves a Council under the name of the “American Committee for Lectures on the History of Religions.”
  4. The Council shall elect out of its number a Chairman, a Secretary, and a Treasurer.
  5. All matters of local detail shall be left to the co-operating institution under whose auspices the lectures are to be delivered.
  6. A course of lectures on some religion, or phase of religion, from an historical point of view, or on a subject germane to the study of religions, shall be delivered annually, or at such intervals as may be found practicable, in the different cities represented by this Association.
  7. The Council (a) shall be charged with the selection of the lecturers, (b) shall have charge of the funds, (c) shall assign the time for the lectures in each city, and perform such other functions as may be necessary.
  8. Polemical subjects, as well as polemics in the treatment of subjects, shall be positively excluded.
  9. The lectures shall be delivered in the various cities between the months of September and June.
  10. The copyright of the lectures shall be the property of the Association.
  11. The compensation of the lecturer shall be fixed in each case by the Council.
  12. The lecturer shall be paid in instalments after each course, until he shall have received half of the entire compensation. Of the remaining half, one. half shall be paid to him upon delivery of the manuscript, properly prepared for the press, and the second-half on the publication of the volume,.less a deduction for corrections made by the author in the proofs exceeding 15% of the cost of the plates.

The Committee as now constituted is as. follows : Prof. Crawford H, Toy, Chairman, 7 Lowell St., Cambridge, Mass.; Rev. Dr. John P. Peters, Treasurer, 227 W. 99th St., New York City; Prof. Morris Jastrow, Jr., Secretary, 248 S. 23rd St., Philadelphia; Pa.; Prof. Richard Gottheil, Columbia University, New York City; Prof. Robert F. Harper, University of Chicago, Chicago, 111 .; Prof. Paul Haupt, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.; Prof. E. W. Hopkins, Yaie University, New Haven, Conn.; Prof. F. W. Hooper, Brooklyn Institute,. Brooklyn, N. Y.; Prof. G. W. Knox, Union Theological Seminary, New York City; Prof. Edward Knōx Mitchell, Hartford Theological Seminary, Hartford, Conn.; President F. K. Sanders, Washburn College, Topeka, Kan.; Prof. H. P. Smith, Meadville Theological School, Meadville, Pa.

The lecturers in the course of American Lee-tures on the History of Religions and the titles of their volumes are as follows:

  • 1894-1895:—Prof. T. W. Rhys-Davids, Ph.D.; Buddhism.
  • 1896-1897:—Prof. Daniel G. Brinton, M.D., LL.D. Religions of Primitive Peoples.
  • 1897-1898:—Rev. Prof. T. K. Cheyne, D.D. Jewish Religious Life after the Exile.
  • 1898-1899:—Prof. Karl Budde, D.D Religion of Israel to the Exile.
  • 1904-1905:—Prof. George Steindorfī, Ph.D. The Religion of the Ancient Egyptians.
  • 1905-1906:—Prof. George W. Knox, D.D., LL.D. The Development of Religion in Japan.
  • 1906-1907:—Prof. Maurice Bloomfield, Ph.D., LL.D. The Religion of the Veda.
  • 1907-1908:—Prof. A. W. Jackson. The Religion of Persia.[1]

The present course of lectures, the ninth of the series, was delivered by Prof. Morris Jastrow, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of Semitic Languages at the University of Pennsylvania, who has devoted many years of special study to the Religion of Babylonia and Assyria. In 1898 Prof. Jastrow published the first comprehensive work on the “Religion of Babylonia and Assyria” as Volume I. of the “Handbooks on the History of Religions” edited by him. In 1903 he began the publication of the revised German translation, which is practically a new work. The one volume of the English edition has been enlarged to two substantial volumes in the German form, in order to embody the additional material brought to light during the last decade. It is the intention of Prof. Jastrow to follow the German edition by a supplemental volume, to be published simultaneously in English and German, on “The Temples, Cult, and Myths of Babylonia and Assyria.” Besides a large number of papers on special points connected with the religious beliefs of Babylonia and Assyria, or with the elucidation of religious texts, Prof. Jastrow is also the author of the article on the “Religion of Babylonia and Assyria” in the supplemental volume of Hastings’s Dictionary of the Bible.

Other publications of Prof. Jastrow include The Study of Religion , London, 1901; The Grammatical Works of Abu Zakarijja Hajjug , Leiden, 1897; and a large number of philological and archasological articles, bearing chiefly on Assyrian, Hebrew, and Arabic, and published in technical journals of this country and Europe.

The lectures in this course were delivered before the Lowell Institute, University of Chicago, Meadville Theological School, Union Theological Seminary, Brooklyn Institute, Drexel Institute, and the Johns Hopkins University.

John P. Peters,
C. H. Toy,
Committee on Publication

February, 1911.

Footnotes and references:


This course, by special arrangement with the Committee, will form part of Prof. Jackson’s volume on the Religion of Persia in the series of “Handbooks on the History of Religions,” edited by Prof. Morris Jastrow, Jr., and published by Messrs. Ginn & Company of Boston. The volume is expected to appear in 1912.

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