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Ras Ibn Hani Rumination

June 26, 2007

As of late I have been working through the Ugaritic texts CAT 1.90; 1.164 and 1.168 — three ritual texts that use the formula ỉd ydbḥ / yph mlk.

The latter two are from Ras Ibn Hani, forcing me to acquaint myself with the dig there, in addition to that of Ras Shamra. (Call me crazy, but I think that having a good understanding of find spots and whatnot are useful in the philological enterprise, even when it turns out the texts were actually found in a fill.)

While reading through the secondary literature, I ran across this odd statement by del Olmo Lete in his Canaanite Religion regarding the texts from Ras Ibn Hani:

From the mythological fragments nothing certain can be derived… What is definitely clear from this variety of genres is that the palace of Ras Ibn Hani had its own center of cult and magic and its own “mythology,” probably parallel or complementary to the palace mythology of Ugarit. (pp.317-18)

How is it that del Olmo Lete can be so definitive that Ras Ibn Hani had its own mythology if “nothing certain can be derived” from the mythological fragments?

While it is clear from the archaeology of the site that Ras Ibn Hani had its own cult center (his use of the term “magic” is a misnomer), I don’t know if you can make this based simply on the fragmentary texts that we have. And I certainly don’t think that we can talk about the “mythology” of the site at all.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. jake mccarty permalink
    June 27, 2007 9:55 pm

    Archaeology, not archeology. You’re doing old world stuff!

  2. jimgetz permalink*
    June 28, 2007 8:01 am

    Hmm. This is what I get, relying on Firefox’ spell check. Do you think archæology would be better? 😉

  3. July 4, 2007 11:07 pm

    I’ve developed a desire to learn more about Ugarit and its influence on the Bible. Do you have any suggestions for an initial resource or two for that?

  4. July 5, 2007 5:39 pm

    I’m not sure what to recommend off hand, except for Mark Smith’s volume: http://www.amazon.com/Untold-Stories-Ugaritic-Studies-Twentieth/dp/1565635752

    I wish someone would write the equivalent of Simon Parker’s work, Studies and Scripture and Inscriptions: Comparative Studies on Narratives in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions and the Hebrew Bible (Oxford: OUP, 1997)., but on a selection of Ugaritic and biblical texts. Whoever does so with the same aplomb as Parker will do everyone a marvelous favor.

  5. jimgetz permalink*
    July 8, 2007 9:12 pm

    Greg, sorry it has taken me so long to respond! I’ve been in the Philly area scoping for places to live for the last week.

    There are lots of books written on the relationship between the Bible and Ugarit written by scholars of a generation or two back. Peter Cragie’s book comes immediately to mind in this regard. However, most/all of these were predicated on the fundamental misunderstanding of Ugarit as a Canaanite city.

    I think that the consensus now has moved away from that conclusion, and I personally have problems with most of what was written from these days of yore. All of this to say, I can’t really give you any good resources because I don’t think that Ugarit influenced the Bible.

    John’s suggestion of Smith’s work would provide a good overview of the field and some of the areas where Ugaritic Studies have helped to understand the larger cultural context in which the Hebrew Bible was written. But, a direct influence on the Bible is not something I would see as feasible given what we now know of Ugaritic culture.

  6. July 12, 2007 9:06 pm

    Thank you, Jim and John:

    I appreciate the suggestions. I understand the study of Ugaritic culture and language has had a few turns along the way and care must be taken in the selection of study materials. I’ve been reading some of Peter Craigie’s writings especially his Psalms commentary and have considered his book, “Ugarit and the Old Testament”. I was a little concerned that the age of that publication might be a detriment because of the more recent understandings of the Ugaritic language and culture. Although, I must admit I enjoy Peter Craigie’s writings very much.

    Rather than “influence”, I should have perhaps couched that a little differently. Maybe similarities would be a better term? Ugarit is likely a very small part of the overall Biblical cultural context.

    Thanks again!

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