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The Animalising Affliction of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4 : Reading Across the Human-Animal Boundary - Peter Joshua Atkins

The Animalising Affliction of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4

Reading Across the Human-Animal Boundary

By: Peter Joshua Atkins

Paperback | 22 August 2024

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This is a detailed investigation into the nature of Nebuchadnezzar's animalising affliction in Daniel 4 and the degree to which he is depicted as actually becoming an animal. PeterAtkins examines two predominant lines of interpretation: either Nebuchadnezzar undergoes a physical metamorphosis of some kind into an animal form; or diverse other readings that specifically preclude or deny an animal transformation of the king. By providing an extensive study of these interpretative opinions, alongside innovative assessments of ancient Mesopotamian divine-human-animal boundaries, Atkins ultimately demonstrates how neither of these traditional interpretations best reflect the narrative events.

While there have been numerous metamorphic interpretations of Daniel 4, these are largely reliant upon later developments within the textual tradition and are not present in the earliest edition of Nebuchadnezzar's animalising affliction. Atkins' study displays that when Daniel 4 is read in the context of Mesopotamian texts, which appear to conceive of the human-animal boundary as being indicated primarily in relation to possession or lack of the divine characteristic of wisdom, the affliction represents a far more significant categorical change from human to animal than has hitherto been identified.

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