Cuneiform and Christianity: a Surprising Set of Coincidences

In my recent research on the ancient writing system, I encountered a truly interesting coincidence.  About the middle of the first century on our side of the Christian calendar, cuneiform (an ancient writing system consisting of something like “spikey wedges,” was going out of business.   This was just about the time Hero of Alexandria invented the first steam engine (in 62).  Shortly after people ceased using cuneiform, the Temple in Jerusalem fell and the city was burned to the ground.  It almost seemed as though the religious system of second-Temple Judaism somehow depended upon cuneiform for its continued well beling.  So I studied out the matter and asked myself this hypothetical question:  “What if the intellectual capital of OT Judaism arose from the Sumerian-Akkadian world, transmitted through Egyptian hieroglyphs, as and when they became invested with the cuneiform writing system and its way of thinking about the world?”

Cuneiform, it turns out, had been used by both the Sumerians and Akkadians to create a host of mythological stories, proverbs and songs (similar to the Psalms, written by a priestess-poet named ‘Enheduanna,’ (2285 b. – 2250 b.) called “Hymns to [the goddess] Inanna”) and many epistles or letters written (in clay tablets) by a wide diversity of types of persons from all walks of life.  These included priests and scribes, kings and merchants, children and bankers. Quite interestingly — Enheduanna, like Abraham, was from the city of “Ur” in Mesopotamia.

Cuneiform seems to have entered by one of its developing branches into the proto-Egyptian language and was invested in (and stands behind) the later “hieroglyphic” syllabary of Egypt, clearly adopted later by the Hebrew people as a catalogue of idioms (in non-picture form, see 2d commanment)  — specific phrases each with its own peculiar meaning — as found throughout the OT and which give it what some have thought of as a uniquely “Semitic” thought structure.  This Cuneiform-Egyptian (glyphic)-Hebrew tongue was then translated into Greek, and the NT was added to it in Hellenistic Greek.

In effect, Hellenistic Greek had replaced Cuneiform as the most influential (international) writing system by the first century.  Then came the Greek writings of Josephos (90), the Gospels and Christian NT (100- 120) and the writing of the Church fathers

Interestingly, all the Roman Emperors — all the way until Justinian (d. 565) spoke the Greek tongue fluently as their primary language.  This left the eastern Empire, the most Greek-speaking part of the empire, as the most civilized representative of the Church until the Ottoman Turks overran it (1453).  But the intellectual capital of Sumeria-Akkad (the Bible’s original fictitional content) remained the primary “truth-source” and ultimate standard.  This precipitated (on my view) a backwards-going rearward-looking set of movements — the Renaissance and the Reformation.  By aiming backward toward earlier sources, these movements in effect re-connected with their earlier Sumerian-Akkadian intellectual capital.

I shall blog a bit more upon this topic — about which I am admittedly tenative and consider that I am testing an interesting theory — when convenience and Providence permit.