Gods in Translations: The Many Names of Ancient Semitic Gods


In the context of the ongoing ERC Advanced grant “Mapping Ancient Polytheisms” (MAP), this workshops aims at encouraging a common reflexion on ancient Semitic gods focusing on an innovative perspective: divine names and epithets. 

From a comparative perspective (Greek and West Semitic worlds), the MAP project takes into account “divine onomastic sequences”, that is to say combinations of various types of divine names or elements identifying a particular god (nouns, epithets, titles, appellatives, sentences, etc.). Applied on a large scale, in a long-term historical perspective, this perspective can help to better understand the complex strategies of interaction between humans and gods and the capacity to elaborate pragmatic and exploratory knowledge regarding the latter. Ancient gods are, indeed, multifaceted powers and the divine names are meant to provide a first and crucial access to their “theological” identity and to their cultic role. The large range of onomastic attributes, mobilized in ritual or narrative contexts, in specific spaces and times, sometimes reserved to one god, sometimes shared by several gods, conveys important information on the functions of the gods, on their appearance, origin and diffusion, on their modes of action.

Among the many possible declinations of the topic, the workshop focuses on the translatability of divine names and epithets in different religious systems (especially between polytheisms and monotheisms), in different languages or literary traditions (mainly North-Western Semitic languages and Greek) and in different media (in particular comparing texts and iconographies).

Semitic Religions, Divine Names and Epithets, Hebrew Bible and Cognate Studies, Semitic Epigraphy, Ancient Near East Iconography


Corinne Bonnet University of Toulouse
Christophe Nihan University of Lausanne
Fabio Porzia University of Toulouse

Member Area

Warsaw 2019 Call for Papers

In order to study the translatability of divine names, the workshop is organised around three axes. For this reason, scholars are encouraged to present papers dealing with at least one of these aspects: 

- comparing divine names and epithets in different traditions and languages (translations, adaptations, interpretations, etc., considering in particular Masoretic Text, Septuagint, Qumran, but also New Testament and later versions of the Bible); 

- comparing divine names and epithets in different religious systems (for example, Levantine, Anatolian, Egyptian or Mesopotamian religions, Graeco-Roman religions, Judaism, early Christianity and Islam) in order to redefine the limits of the opposition between “polytheism” and “monotheism” and to promote an anthropological approach to ancient religious systems; 

- studying the relations between divine names attested in texts and inscriptions and iconographic representations.

The Annual Conference 2021
takes place 2-5 August
in Wuppertal. Read more.