Ritual and Cult at Ugarit

Ritual and Cult at Ugarit

Ritual and Cult at Ugarit

Ritual and Cult at Ugarit

Synopsis

The Ugaritic ritual texts provide the only extensive documentary data for Late Bronze cultic practice in the greater Syro-Palestinian region. These texts, in a West-Semitic language that belongs to the same family as Hebrew and Aramaic, reflect the actual practice of a sacrificial cult in the city of Ugarit in the late twelfth early eleventh centuries B. C. E. Based on new collations of the tablets, these texts and translations provide ready access to this direct witness to the form taken by one of the predecessors of the biblical sacrificial cult. In addition to the narrowly ritual texts, which were composed in prose and in a very laconic form of expression, a number of poetic texts are presented that reveal the ideological link that existed between cultic practice and the concept of royalty. While the prose ritual texts document a regular system of offerings to the great deities of the pantheon, related directly to the lunar cycle and less directly to the solar year, some of the poetic texts reveal the desire on the part of the kings of Ugarit to maintain ties with their departed ancestors. The kings saw their effective power as consisting of a continuum from the royal ancestors through to the reigning king and the passage of this power as being effected by ritual practice. More mundane concerns were also addressed ritually, such as protecting horses or other equids from snakebite, finding a cure for a sick child, or defending people from attack by sorcerers. The practice of divination at Ugarit is documented by other texts, both in the form of manuals, collections of omens from past practice, and in the form of accounts of real-world consultations of a divinatory priest by someone seeking guidance. Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)

Excerpt

Writings from the Ancient World is designed to provide up-to-date, readable English translations of writings recovered from the ancient Near East.

The series is intended to serve the interests of general readers, students, and educators who wish to explore the ancient Near Eastern roots of Western civilization, or compare these earliest written expressions of human thought and activity with writings from other parts of the world. It should also be useful to scholars in the humanities or social sciences who need clear, reliable translations of ancient Near Eastern materials for comparative purposes. Specialists in particular areas of the ancient Near East who need access to texts in the scripts and languages of other areas will also find these translations helpful. Given the wide range of materials translated in the series, different volumes will appeal to different interests. But these translations make available to all readers of English the world's earliest traditions as well as valuable sources of information on daily life, history, religion, etc. in the preclassical world.

The translators of the various volumes in this series are specialists in the particular languages and have based their work on the original sources and the most recent research. In their translations they attempt to convey as much as possible of the original texts in a fluent, current English. In the introductions, notes, glossaries, maps, and chronological tables, they aim to provide the essential information for an appreciation of these ancient documents.

Covering the period from the invention of writing (by 3000 B.C.E.) down to the conquests of Alexander the Great (ca. 330 B.C.E.). the ancient Near East comprised northeast Africa and southwest Asia. The . . .

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