”Formative Tendencies in Near Eastern Religions and Ideologies” Workshop in Beirut, 15-16 April 2019
Organised by the Centre for Oriental Studies, University of Tartu and Finnish Institute in the Middle East (Beirut).
Venue: Finnish Institute in the Middle East, c/o Consulate General of Finland in Beirut, Badaro street, (5th floor meeting room
Participants: Peeter Espak (Tartu), Raija Mattila (Beirut), Sebastian Fink (Helsinki), Gebhard J. Selz (Vienna), Andreas Johandi (Tartu), Vladmir Sazonov (Tartu), Sirje Kupp-Sazonov (Tartu), Art Johanson (Tartu), Urmas Asi (Tartu), Margus-Tarmo Pihlakas (Tartu).
Conference presentations will be published in a special issue of the Theological Journal (Tartu, indexed in Scopus, https://usuteadus.ee/?lang=en ) in print and in open access (including Google Scholar) on the webpage of the journal.
The workshop organized by the Centre for Oriental Studies of the University of Tartu and the Finnish Institute in the Middle East (Beirut) aims at analyzing some key perspectives considering the developments of Mesopotamian and East Mediterranean cultures in their multicultural or parallel cultural frameworks. In earlier research, religious change was often explained by the arrival of new people with new religious ideas and especially monotheistic tendencies were ascribed to the arrival of Semites in southern Mesopotamia. To some part, this explanation is still valid as foreign invaders bring their gods with them. However, it could be shown that Mesopotamian culture was multicultural from very early times onwards. Therefore, we cannot postulate a pure Sumerian versus a pure Semitic religion and oppose them to each other. Exchange of gods, ideas and religious concepts surely took place before we have any written documentation.
We aim to discuss some features of the earliest forms and formative tendencies in the panthea and mythologies in their parallel development in Mesopotamia and East Mediterranean in order to understand the genealogy of different ideas and how different religious concepts interact with each other and produce new ideas. One of our main questions is, if we actually can identify the drivers of religious change. Are these drivers ”ethnic” separate cultures in the third millennium Near East or are we simply witnessing the developments in scribal culture and organized religion and ideology? Therefore, we try to understand local developments (city) and larger developments (kingdom, league, empire) and their interconnection and suggest to study changes in religion also as a response to altered social and political circumstances.
15th of April
Instability and security issues: from ancient times to modern issues
11.00-11.15 Margus-Tarmo Pihkalas (ThinkTank EURUS, Tartu) Introduction
11.15-12.00 Peeter Espak (University of Tartu) The nature of theology of war
12.00-12.45 Vladimir Sazonov (University of Tartu / Estonian Academy of Security Sciences) Instability: From Fall of ’empire’ of Akkad until modern security challenges in Iraq after fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Moderator: Andreas Johandi (University of Tartu)
14.30-15.15 Art Johanson (Tartu) Syria and Lebanon as ancient battlefield – case study of the Battle of Issus
15.15-16.00 Urmas Asi (Tartu) Middle eastern influences on European security: Estonian example
Moderator: Andreas Johandi
16.00-17.30 Round table discussion ”Instability and Security Issues in the Middle East: from ancient times to modern issues”
Dr. Peeter Espak, Dr. Sebastian Fink, Dr. Vladimir Sazonov, Andreas Johandi, Art Johanson, Urmas Asi
Moderator: Margus-Tarmo Pihlakas
16th of April
Formative Tendencies in Near Eastern Religions, Mythologies and Literatures: Multicultural and Parallel-Cultural Perspectives
11.15-12.00 Gebhard J. Selz (Vienna) How and Why Did Mesopotamian Religions in the Third Millennium BCE Change? Between Political Ideology, Theological Speculations and Ritual Practices.
12.00-12.45 Peeter Espak, (Tartu) The Sumero-Akkadian Understanding of ”Nation” and ”Ethnicity”
Moderator: Vladimir Sazonov
14.00-14.45 Sebastian Fink (Helsinki), From Enlil the almighty to Enlil the coward
14.45-15.30 Andreas Johandi, (Tartu), Was There Anything in Common Between the Gods Marduk and Martu (Amurrum)?
15.30-16.15 Vladimir Sazonov and Sirje Kupp-Sazonov (Tartu) Some words about the possible Near-Eastern origin of M. Bulgakov’s charming vampire Hella (Gella), Azazel and other demons of Ancient Near Eastern origin
Moderator: Peeter Espak