Names and power: the concept of secret names in the Ancient Near East
Pumphrey, Nicholaus Benjamin
Secret names are a common folkloristic concept found in the Ancient Near Eastern society. The thesis examines four stories of various cultures in the Ancient Near East in search of secret names and how they relate to the system of order and chaos of each society. First, the Egyptian story of Isis where Isis steals the secret name of Ra is analyzed. Second, Jacob’s wrestling match is examined and the attention is given to the Jacob asking the angel for his/her, which the angel refuses to give. Then, Marduk and his fifty names show that names in the Ancient Near East are sources of power, but Marduk’s need not be secret. Finally, YHWH’s name exemplifies both Marduk’s names of power as well as Ra’s secret name. All these examples from the various areas show that the concept of secret names is common throughout the Ancient Near East.
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