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Ugarit und die Bibel.

This study is intended for serious students of the Bible as well as for specialists in Ugaritology, and there is much here for both. The book begins with a brief sketch of the discovery (1928) and ongoing excavations of the metropolitan and cosmopolitan Bronze Age port city of Ugarit and one of its suburbs on the coast of North Syria. A couple of pages are devoted to the history of the city and about eight pages to the various archives of texts recovered. Then attention turns to the bearing of these texts on the Old Testament.

The core of the book treats the literature of Ugarit and Canaan, writing systems, misunderstood and mistranslated words in the Bible that have been elucidated by Ugaritic; poetry and parallelism; the problem of tricola; the Psalms; Ugaritic and biblical gods, from Canaanite polytheism to Yahwistic monotheism; the Assembly of Gods at Ugarit and in the Bible; Gods, Goddesses, and Demons; El as Creator of the World and Father of Humanity; Bal as storm and rain god; Bal's foes, Sea and Death; the great goddesses Anat and Athirat, Astarte; YW = YHWH?; deified ancestors; other gods, messengers, demons; the hero Danel; Leviathan; Adonis; the cult at Ugarit and in the Bible; Enthronement of Bal and Yahwe from the temporal to the eternal Kingdom of Yahwe; mourning rites in Canaan and Israel; from the Scapegoat (Lev 16) to Paul's words, "women should be quiet in church"; sacrifice in Ugarit and Israel; alcohol and sex in Ugarit and the Bible; the kid in its mother's milk; the dead and the ancestor cult, from ancestor worship to honor of parents; necromancy and the Marzih celebration; inquiry and control of the future, omenology; the art of incantation and medicine; from extispicy to the Law of Moses; the inquiry of the future through liver-inspection in Ugarit and pre-Exilic Israel; astronomy and astrology; medicine; nature and world; the origin of the world; El-Yahwe, Creator of the World?; Bal as creator-god beside or after El?; the palace of the victor on the holy mountain; dew and rain; law, commerce, and seafaring; contracts, administration, justice, symbols of justice; commerce and seafaring; history and politics in the frame of old oriental royal ideology; Ugaritic texts and history of the patriarchs; from the Habiru in Ugarit to the Hebrews in the Bible; the Reed Sea and the Song of Miriam; royal duties in Ugarit, Canaan, and Israel; kingship in Ugarit; art in Canaan and Israel; was there a statue of Yahwe?; the Throne-wagon; figures and pictures in Canaan and Israel; wisdom of life--human destiny; sport, physical size and fitness; wrestling and running; hunting; metallurgy, weapons, and warriors. The variety and intrinsic interest of the topics treated make this book a valuable tool for every student of the Bible and its background.

There is so much of interest here that discussion of details is impossible in a brief review. One item may be singled out as especially striking. Under the rubric, "from Scapegoat to Paul's dictum 'women should be silent in the churches' (I Cor 14:34)," Loretz cites the Hittite parallel to the Scapegoat ritual of Lev 16:1-34, in which--to free a military camp of pestilence--the generals take a he-goat and bind it at night and at daybreak drive it out into the open country. In addition to the goat, they also take a woman who is duly adorned or decorated to share honors with the goat. The generals lay their hands on the goat and bow before it, and the king bows before the woman. Then they bring the goat, the woman, bread, and beer through the middle of the camp and drive them out into the open country saying, "See, whatever evil for mankind, cattle, sheep, horses, mules, and asses was in this camp, see this goat and this woman have taken away out of the camp; that land which she chances upon let it receive this evil plague." J. Milgrom (Anchor Bible, 3:1071-79) cites in more detail the Mesopotamian and Hittite elimination rituals of this sort but does not pay any particular attention to the use of the woman. A text (KTU 1.127) from Ugarit presents a similar ritual in which both a goat and a woman are driven out into the distance, thus supplying a link with the Hittite and biblical rituals. In the biblical ritual there were two goats chosen by lot, one for YHWH and one for Azazel. The identity of Azazel has been and continues to be problematic. Loretz inclines to identify Azazel with Mot/Death. Now that we know YHWH had a consort, we could look in that direction. At Elephantine in the Persian period the name of the God of Israel was linked to the goddess Anat in the compound 'nt-yhw. Of the "daughters of God" mentioned in the Quran, there was one called al-Uzza, "the strong one," whose ancient counterpart would be quite obviously Anat. Y. M. Grintz ("Do Not Eat on the Blood," Siyon 31:1-17 |Hebrew~) has suggested Azael or Uza of Enoch 8:1 is none other than the goddess al-Uzza. From the role of the woman in the Scapegoat ritual among the Hittites and at Ugarit, Loretz moves to consideration of the exclusion of women from cultic activity in both Judaism and Christianity, both of which turn away radically from Canaanite tradition to a point where God no longer has a wife and women have no function in the cult. Happily, women are no longer silent in some synagogs and churches, and few care to share in scapegoating.

The final, brief chapter, entitled "Von den Ugarit-Texten zur Bibel," deals with results and perspectives and the overall impact of the discoveries at Ugarit on biblical studies and the nature of Israel's debt to the Canaanites. The central issue here is the nature and degree of Canaanite influence on the religion of Israel. The last two sentences of the book put the present state of the question succinctly: "The opening up of the Canaanite background of biblical writings through the Ugaritic Texts allows us to recognize that our reconstructions of the past are built only on fragments of a much richer tradition and that we therefore are still far from a historical anthropology or an anthropological history of the Canaanites and the people who produced the Bible. Yet the Ugaritic Texts help us in a welcome way to measure the strangeness of the past of the Canaanites, Israelites, and Jews and our cultural distance from them better than before." Students of the Bible and its background will be grateful for the labors of O. Loretz.
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Author:Pope, Marvin H.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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