Our Open House series of 2016 started with a visit from Jacqueline Vayntrub, who is NECL Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard, 2015–2016, as the visiting scholar. The discussion topic was The Epic of Gilgamesh, with the focus on ‘The Search for Everlasting Life’ (section 4 in the edition linked).
Bitterly Gilgamesh wept for his friend Enkidu; he wandered over the wilderness as a hunter, he roamed over the plains; in his bitterness he cried, ‘How can I rest, how can I be at peace? Despair is in my heart. What my brother is now, that shall I be when I am dead. Because I am afraid of death I will go as best I can to find Utnapishtim whom they call the Faraway, for he has entered the assembly of the gods.’ So Gilgamesh traveled over the wilderness, he wandered over the grasslands, a long journey, in search of Utnapishtim, whom the gods took after the deluge; and they set him to live in the land of Dilmun, in the garden of the sun; and to him alone of men they gave everlasting life.
You can view the discussion on our YouTube channel, or below:
Members can start and continue the discussion in the Forum, here.
Mentioned during the discussion:
- Susan Ackerman: When Heroes Love: The Ambiguity of Eros in the Stories of Gilgamesh and David
- Tzvi Abusch: Male and Female in the Epic of Gilgamesh: Encounters, Literary History, and Interpretation
Jacqueline Vayntrub, NELC Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, is a trained philologist studying the formation of the Hebrew Bible, its various genres and modes of discourse against the broader background of ancient Near Eastern literary production, and its reception in and impact on Western scholarship.
Her dissertation, Proverbs and the Limits of Poetry, explores how the terminology and presumptions of the modern scholar both help and hinder understanding of what is unique to verbal expression as it is represented in the texts of the Hebrew Bible. The project focuses on the Biblical Hebrew term mashal, its role in the history of scholarship supporting various aesthetic theories and its role in the Biblical texts themselves designating, to varying degrees, performed speech or a textualized literary event.
Image credit: Neo-Assyrian Relief panel, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, OASC