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Ugaritic folklore and Biblical mythology.

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  • Ugaritic folklore and Biblical mythology.

    I need to clarify folklore and mythology before we can move on, folklore relating to folktales from Ugarit, which is undefined whether they are true or not. The same happens with Biblical literature, except that the assumption is that other events that happened in Ancient Near Eastern Polytheistic culture’s allowed Yahweh’s scribes or Yahwehist to pen a collection of writings (including the Pentateuch) loosely based on Ancient Near Eastern Polytheistic cultures, hence “myth” or actual events surrounding, due to whether these early writings are P, E, J, D sources. A relationship and connection that references Ugaritic materials, is adopted due to largely that the supposed Israelite’s neighbored the Ugaritic people and is seen later in Biblical literature, as The Bible parallels Ugarit.
    Comparative studies indicate specific studies that clarified between Psalm 29 and selections of Ugaritic poetry, many have seen these connections as complicated, however complicated there’s also a comparison with Deut. 14.21 and an Ugaritic text translated as 'cook a kid in milk', although some have argued this connection is questionable. When new developments arose new mythical, liturgical texts from Ugarit were discovered that initially raised excitement among comparative scholars. However, some argued that the connections between the two were unclear at best, and problematic as one scholar argued that the Hebrew language had to be relearned considering new data from Ugarit. But, over the years, many have claimed that a 'Pan-Ugaritism' has resulted, primarily because of the large Claremont project directed by L. Fisher (Fisher et al. 1972-81) and the large amount of works by Dietrich and Loretz.. The past 30 years has seen a reasoned analysis of comparisons in many areas.
    There have been many comparisons of the Ugaritic and Hebrew religion, most of which emphasized parallels between the two, later studies have shown a continuity between them. Hebrew Poetry and Ugaritic connections have been studied by Albright (1944) and his students. It’s important to note that certain parallels exist between Ugarit and Biblical literature. A collection of writings known as the Bible do allude to usage of Ugaritic as well Mari texts and other Ancient Near Eastern texts.
    The religious texts from Ugarit important and many are humdrum: they merely list how many sheep or oxen are to be sacrificed on which days of the month to which deities. But others reveal the inner life of the people. In Akkadian there are several compositions belonging to the 'wisdom' genre, familiar to readers of the Hebrew Bible in Job or Proverbs.

    In Ugaritic texts there is a group of mythological texts relating the fortunes of Baal, the storm-god, two stories (folktales may be the least controversial designation) relating to King Keret and Aqhat son of Danel, and several shorter compositions of a mythological, ritual, hymnodic or composite character. While these do not immediately betray the personal foibles or cares of their authors, they are invaluable in our attempts to probe into the real concerns of the people of Ugarit.

    For the general reader, the texts from Ugarit have three main claims to attention. Firstly, they open up one further vista in the slowly unfolding world of the ancient Near East, gradually and tentatively rolling back the frontier of prehistory as the archaeological skeleton is fleshed out with the echoes of the song and laughter of real people, no longer merely cultural ciphers, but individuals like Ilimilku the scribe, or the childless King Arhalbu. While Keret and Danel are, for all we know, merely literary figures, the descriptions of their emotions are not foreign to us, and reveal constants in the moral life of humanity.

    Secondly, in Ugaritic culture there is a direct link with Greek origins of the Mycenaean era. All the evidence suggests that before the time of Alexander contact between the Semitic and Greek worlds was very largely in a westward direction, certainly as far as areas outside the Ionian coastline were concerned. Many deities and hero’s familiar come from Greek mythology and have transparent Semitic antecedents, and there are prototypes of Apollo, Andromeda, Bellerophon, Dionysus, Actaeon and Perseus, and a host of lesser figures.

    Thirdly, although Ugarit was destroyed 1200-1190 BC, and the states of Israel and Judah probably arose nearly two centuries later according to current chronological convention, the linguistic and literary connections between the two areas is considerable.

    Indeed, it is precisely the connections between the two which have inspired much of the scholarly effort devoted to Ugaritic studies. The language is generally learnt by postgraduate students with degrees in Theology and a primary research interest in the Hebrew Bible.

    A knowledge of classical Hebrew is the usual course prerequisite. And despite the efforts of some of the ancient editors of the biblical tradition, faithfully echoed in the efforts of some of their modern counterparts, we discern the old Canaanite gods at every tum, either as rivals to Yahweh, or as contributors to the mythology used to articulate the Hebrew experience of the transcendent. Ugaritic culture, more than any other single force in the ancient world, is now generally recognized as a vital component in the cultural matrix in which Jewish, and after it Christian, thought first took shape. It therefore plays an integral part in the broad framework of European culture, which has been so profoundly influenced by these traditions. Below is a fragmentary line from Ugaritic religious texts making a short parallel:

    “the clouds which rain on the summer-fruit, the dew which settles on the grapes: 'For seven years Baal shall fail, for eight, the Charioteer of the clouds! No dew, no rain, no welling up of the deeps, no goodness of Baal's voice! For she has torn the garment of Danel the man of healing, the cloak of the hero, the devotee of H[rnm]!”

    -No welling of the deeps: This interesting formula has thrown light on the strange form of David's curse on Mt Gilboa in 2 Sam. 1.21.

    -No goodness: this is a lack of rain, as Baal is a storm God in Ugaritic and Canaanite literature.

    -Of Baal's voice: The thunder, which announces the return of the rains is parallel to the (sevenfold) voice of Yahweh in Ps, 29, which echoes Baal's seven lightnings" eight thunders in KTU (Ugarit) 1.101.3-4.

    -For she has torn: This could be passive but is best construed as an act with Pughat as the subject. Pardee (1997c: 352) makes this the narrative continuation: 'When she had torn the garment"

    -the garment of Danel the man of healing, the cloak of the hero, the devotee of H[rnm]: In this line the whole of Danel's speech is used as a form of a curse, in reaction to Pughat's tearing of his garment. If this sounds an extravagant response, we should recognize the powerful symbolism of her gesture, calling forth a powerful response. It may be compared to the regular submission of a lock of hair and a piece of the hem of a garment of a 'respondent' (prophet) at Mari, which provide a guarantee of the authenticity of the oracle proclaimed, precisely claiming these extensions of the respondent's person may be destroyed, which will in effect destroy their owner. Thus, Pugh at has committed a sacrilegious act. But she, being a wise and lore-learned woman, has done it in the full knowledge of its significance. The vigor of Danel's curse here also serves a literary purpose: it anticipates the greater curses which will be uttered when Danel realizes what has happened, that his son and heir has been murdered and devoured. This also prepares Danel psychologically for that later catastrophe, which thus enables him to handle that appropriately later.



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