This article examines the image of deities in Hebrew and Akkadian prayers through the lens of attachment theory. Attachment theory describes how infants form attachments with their caregivers, and how caregivers form reciprocal bonds with their children. Children form mental representations of their “attachment figures” or caregivers that help them develop a sense of self, others, and relationship that persists into adulthood. Research in the psychology of religion indicates that believers often understand the deity they worship as an attachment figure. This essay draws on this research and extends it to investigate ancient Hebrew and Akkadian prayers to determine how extensively these texts reflect the image of deities as attachment figures. This analysis permits an enhanced understanding of deities as parent-like figures that is not limited to texts that explicitly use parental imagery of the deity. It also grounds the study of ancient prayer texts in a well-developed modern theory that can inform further research.

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