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Panbabylonism

PANBABYLONISM

A theory of interpretation of history advanced in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century that claimed to find traces of an essential Babylonian influence in all the cultures and religions of the world. The theory was proposed in several forms, the most notable being those of Hugo Winckler, Himmels- und Weltenbild der Babylonier als Grundlage der Weltanschauung und Mythologie aller Völker (1903), and Alfred Jeremias, Die Panbabylonisten (1907). These men observed that the cosmogonies of the various nations were permeated with astral motifs and concluded that this worldwide similarity in mythological types argued for a common cultural heritage that had its roots in Babylonia, the birthplace of both astronomy and astrological religion. Some of the ramifications of their theory were to picture Israelite history and tradition as a shadowy borrowing from Mesopotamia and to portray Christ as a fictional reincarnation of the Babylonian god, Bel-Marduk. Another variety of Panbabylonism was exemplified in P. Jensen's Das Gilgamesch-Epos in der Welt-literatur (1906), which found that Babylonian hero under different guises in the literature of almost all nations and viewed Christ as a solar-myth figure modeled on Gilgamesh. The extravagant claims of the school were effectively dismissed from serious consideration after the scientific investigations of the astronomer-Assyriologist F. X. Kugler in his Auf den Trümmern des Panbabylonismus (1909) and Im Bannkreis Babels (1910).

Bibliography: a. deimel, Pantheon Babylonicum (Rome 1914) 3539. c. m. edsman, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen 195765) 5:3536. p. schebasta, Christus und die Religionen der Erde (Vienna 1961) 1:548550. f. m. th. de liagre bÖhl, Christus und die Religionen der Erde 2:447448. f. kÖnig, Christus und die Religionen der Erde 3:745746.

[j. a. brinkman]

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