LDS Growth Ancient Language Texts and Scripture

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"We are but just beginning to learn how ignorant we have been of the civilised past, and how false our ideas have been in regard to it. We are but just beginning to realize that the fragments of Hebrew literature contained in the Old Testament are the wrecks of a vast literature which extended over the ancient oriental world from a remote epoch, and that we cannot understand them aright except in the light of the contemporaneous literature of which they formed a portion" (Sayce, Higher Criticism and the Verdict of the Monuments, 24).

"In any case, it was a Semitic people-the Amorites-who claimed his Sumerians as a political, ethnic, and linguistic entity. To be sure, the conquered the conquered the conquerors, and the Amorites, commonly known as Babylonians because their capital was the city of Babylon, take over Sumerian culture and civilization lock, stock, and barrel. Except for the language, the Babylonian educational system, religion, mythology, and literature are almost identical with the Sumerian, excluding, of course, the expected changes and durations due to political developments and the passing of time. And since these Babylonians, in turn, exercise no little influence on the less cultured neighbors, particularly Assyrians, Hittites, Hurrians, and Canaanites, day, as much as the Sumerians themselves, helped to plant the Sumerian cultural seed everywhere in the ancient Near East" (Kramer, Sumerians, 288-89).

"Written legal documents and law codes are found in later periods all over the ancient near East, and there is little doubt that although these may differ in detail for all go back to Sumerian prototypes; even Greece and Rome would probably never have had their written laws had it not been for the Sumerian penchant for keeping a record of their legal transactions" (Kramer, Sumerians, 289).

"In a matter of scientific achievement, it is probably in the field of mathematics that the Sumerians made their major contribution to future generations by devising the sexagesimal system of place notation, which may have been the forerunner of the Hindu Arabic decimal system now in use. Traces of the Sumerian sexagesimal system exist even today in the measurement of the circle and angle by degrees and some of the weights and measurements that were current until relatively recent times" (Kramer, Sumerians, 289-90).

"Sumerian architects also made use of the dome, vault, and arch, and it is not improbable that the arch first came to Greece and Rome from contact with Babylonia, which had inherited it from Sumer" (Kramer, Sumerians, 290).

"the achievements of the Sumerians in the areas of religion, education, and literature left a deep impress not only on their neighbors in space and time but on the culture of modern man as well, especially through their influence, indirect though it was, on the Hebrews from the Bible. The extent of the Hebrew debt to Sumer becomes more apparent from day to day as a result of the gradual piecing together and translation of the Sumerian literary works; for as can now be seen, they have quite a number of features in common with the books of the Bible" (Kramer, Sumerians, 290).

"That the Biblical laws and the long-known Hammurabi law codes show numerous similarities in content, terminology, and even arrangement is recognized by practically all students of the Bible. But the Hammurabi code itself, as has been shown in recent years, is an Akkadian compilation of laws based largely on Sumerian prototypes" (Kramer, Sumerians, 295).

"There is no reason to doubt that these proto-Hebrews had absorbed and assimilated much of the Sumerian way of life...the law which went forth from Zion (Isaiah 2:2) may have had not a few of its roots in the soil of Sumer" (Kramer, Sumerians, 299).

"As literary products, the Sumerian belles-lettres rank high among the ascetic creations of civilized man. They compare not too unfavorably with the ancient Greek and Hebrew masterpieces, and like them, mirror the spiritual and intellectual life of an ancient culture, which would otherwise have remained largely unknown. Their significance for proper appraisal of the cultural and spiritual development of the entire ancient Near East can hardly be overestimated. The Akkadians, that is, the Assyrians and Babylonias, took these works over almost in toto. The Hittites, Hurrians, and Canaanites translated some of them into their own languages and no doubt imitated them widely. The form and content of the Hebrew literary works and, to a certain extent, even those of the ancient Greece were profoundly influenced by them" (Kramer, Sumerians, 166).

"The Sumerians, the main cultural influence on Assyrian civilization" (J.R. Porter, The Illustrated Guide to the Bible, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008 100-101).