In the ancient city of Ugarit on the Syrian coast, clay tablets in a cuneiform alphabet script were found from 1929 onward. Written in the Northwest Semitic language, Ugaritic, these sources from the Late Bronze Age present numerous religious texts, including epics and myths, and contain striking parallels to texts in the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.
These parallels were noticed by several early scholars in the field of Ugaritic studies, including Dussaud, de Langhe, and Richardson. Between 1960 and 1990 the number of works dealing with the connections between Ugarit and the Bible increased markedly; the contributions of Dahood, Fisher / Rummel, Loretz, and Brooke / Curtis / Healey having gained the most influence. In time, however, Biblical scholars’ interest in the Ugaritic material has faded, although numerous aspects require further consideration.
Our workshop revivifies comparative studies of Ugaritic and Biblical literature. We concentrate on the issue of life and death in religious texts from Ugarit and in the Hebrew Bible. Conceptualisations of life and death are omnipresent in both cultural spheres and are crucial elements in the religions of the ancient Levant. The passage from life to death is of special interest, being the subject of ancient religious discourse about the condition of liminality and the afterlife. Ugaritic and Biblical literature blend Ancient Near Eastern traditions with local innovations about life and death. A comparative approach is therefore of particular importance in evaluating the contexts and meanings of Old Testament passages on ancestor cult, necromancy, or the Refaim.
Ugarit, Bible, Ancient Near East, History of Literature/Religion