Initially I shall examine the role of Athirat in the myths in which she participates. Even among these passages, we should not expect to find strict, cross-mythical continuity.
My first basic division of the Ugaritic texts will be the myths written by Elimelek. She also plays a significant role in the story of Keret KTU 1. She does not appear in Aqhat. These smaller units will be individually considered in the course of this investiga- tion. Once the essential characteristics of Athirat have been distilled from each of the myths in which she appears, it may then be possible to determine which elements of her divine nature cohere through- out. My study also works with another presupposition; namely, that it is more important to discern the ideology of mythological texts than to at- tempt to uncover their logic.
Is the reality behind the myth political reality, or an aspect of nature, or even the essence of an ab- stract idea? These are the kinds of question which reflect the nature of an- cient Near Eastern myths. Although the answers to such questions are of- ten beyond our grasp, they emphasize that a proper starting point requires the asking of the right questions. Right questions are those which take the nature of mythology into account. In- stead, if we trace the individual elements which are used to support this hypothesis to their origins, the actual nature of the mythology appears.
See S. When these three separate elements are added together they produce the wrong kind of question does Athirat live apart from El on account of his impotence? This is an es- sential characteristic of the head of the pantheon: he is from the most an- cient times; 2 Athirat rides a donkey as a sign of her status; Anat, when she accompanies Athirat, walks. It is not even certain or even likely! Surely the correct method to interpret these scenes is to observe them in their own contexts. When such factors are analysed with an awareness of the ideology rather than a modern logic, they may be properly interpreted.
The essential nature of the characters will appear when these two prin- ciples are observed. The context and the ideology provide a reliable indica- tion of the character and nature of the mythological figures. The first study after the discovery of Ugarit was a monograph written by W. The next major study to appear was that of T. Yama- shita. Meshel in — The voluminous dissertation by M. The following year a dissertation was completed by J.
His work also took into account various iconographic representations and epithets believed to have been associated with her. The following year S. Olyan completed his dissertation; and his chapter on Asherah was subsequently published as a monograph. A dissertation by R. Pettey ap- peared in the same year as that of Olyan.
His dissertation has been recently published as a monograph. Louie was the next scholar to produce a dissertation on Asherah. Louie also took an interest in the origin and role of Asherah in the 15A Philological Study.
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In V. Piper submitted a dissertation on the phe- nomenon of tree worship.
Hadley has recently added a dissertation on the subject of Asherah to the increasing list of studies. In the current decade, M. Although his work is not completely dedicated to the problem of Asherah, it must be considered as an important resource and, therefore, it will be reviewed as well.
Short of God Himself, nothing is true, sure, or right. The data used are mainly from China with a short excursion to the United States. For Lagerwey b, chap. The following three lines, 16—18, are damaged, but seem to contain a reference to the goddess es again. It remains to be seen how T'ang Taoists like Ssu- ma Ch'eng-chen used Lao-Chuang and Buddhist ideas to obviate the Taoist dilemma that immortality was unthinkable without preserving the however sublimated body-mind continuum beyond death. The Book of Joshua marks the fulfillment of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, for God fulfills his promises to Joshua, the successor to Moses, by leading them to the Promised Land. Engelfriet [eds.
Two books have recently appeared in German concerning goddesses in general, or Asherah in particular. A study by O. The second major source is a monograph by M. I shall, however, consider the contribution of Dietrich and Loretz. The most up-to-date dissertation available on the material with which I am concerned is that of Hadley. Hadley also discusses the iconographic stud- ies of Holland, Winter and Schroer on which see below.
The sheer volume of this work alone demands attention, and I shall begin my review of the relevant material with an examination of his approach to the Ugaritic material on Athirat. At the outset, Brink declares that context will be the de- termining factor in his translation of the Ugaritic texts.
Unfortunately, his arrangement of the texts seems to follow no set order, often jumping from a coherent unit such as the Baal Cycle to various fragmented texts, and back again. One major weakness of his approach is that his translations seem to be based not so much on the context as on the opinions of other scholars.
His method of presenting a transliteration of the text, followed by his own translation, is given little credence when, for the justification of his translation, he refers almost exclusively to the opinions of other scholars and gives no philological explanation as to why one translation is better than any other.
Initially, he explores each passage word by word until enough of the vocabulary is present to hone down the amount of space spent on each pericope. This adds much material to his thesis which is not entirely relevant. The results of his method are often confusing translations which make little sense. By way of example, his translation of KTU 1.
El sits in his community house. El drinks wine until he is sated, sweet wine until he is drunk El goes to his house, he enters the court. Anat and Attart stay prone with malicious intent. If more attention had been paid to the context of the poem, Anat and Athtart would not have been left lying on the ground planning evil—a conclusion not supported by the remainder of the text which Brink does not translate. As his interpretations continue, he paints a picture of Athirat as a goddess of extraordinary sexual prowess, thus causing rivalry between El and Baal for her favours.
The difficulty with his translations, besides their awkward nature, is that they seem to be slanted towards his theories about the text, rather than his theories being substantiated by the texts. For example, to sustain his conclusion that Athirat is the true head of the pantheon,34 he interprets the giving of the gifts made by Kothar-and- Khasis in KTU 1. She is endowed with the position of El. The serpents show recognition of her fecundity Brink, to determine the character and role of the two goddesses, analyses the texts which he translated according to genre myth, saga, god lists, rituals, incantations, offering lists, and profane texts , depending upon whether the goddess in question appears alone or with one of her epithets.
These he places on a chart according to the following cate- gories for the verbs: military, fighting, movement, speech and senses, moods, theophany, royal, banquet, weather and seasons, building activities, legal, curse themes, sexual intercourse, mortuary rites, mental activities, acts of direct influence on persons, sacrifice, cultic, and childbearing. All of these elements are then divided according to whether they are first, second or third person. The results reflect the ideas presented in his translations of the texts.
Thus he finds that Baal is associated with weather more than any other god, and that Athirat is the most sexually active of the set Athtart, Athirat and Baal. From this one may deduce tht Atirat was nearly twice as active as Attart, especially in the earlier stages of the UT myths, but not nearly as active as Baal, especially in the later stages. First of all, it assumes that we have a representative portion of the activities of all the gods in all the texts of Ugarit, found and not found.
The vicissitudes of ar- chaeology are a witness against this assumption. This method also betrays a confusion between grammatical phenomena verbs and the action they may indicate and mythological elements what the gods may be doing in lacunae 35Philological Study: Given the circumstances, we should be cautious about using superla- tives or about interpreting statistics too literally. Such a method could pos- sibly demonstrate that in the surviving texts Baal appears as a very active deity, but we cannot say that he is the most active.
This is one of the limita- tions of our research given the nature of the texts. Finally, this method illus- trates a literalistic approach to the texts which cannot be supported in the light of the ideology of the texts. Baal is active in the Baal Cycle, but he barely appears in Keret or Aqhat.
Rather than draw sharp lines of distinc- tion between myth and legend, or any other category, each myth should be analysed according to its context. His conclusions seem to dominate his research and translations, however, and they must be approached with caution. His first chapter is dedicated to exploring the non-goddess interpretations which include a cultic object, a wooden cultic object, an image and a shrine.
In his second chapter Louie considers the goddess interpretations, and here he observes various cognate names for Asherah throughout the ancient Near East. His final chapter is dedicated to the role of Asherah in the Bible. Although Louie comes to no firm conclusion on whether Asherah was considered to be the spouse of Yahweh, he does remain convinced that Asherah, Anat and Athtart eventually merged into one goddess. In keeping with his presupposition of the historicity of the 38Meaning, Characteristics and Role of Asherah: 5. Louie does not violate his stated attempt to understand the biblical material as historically accurate.
Unfortunately, this leads to a compilation of evidence from all the biblical sources with no regard for text-critical studies. In discussing Deut. One of these items is Asherim [sic] which Moses commanded them to burn. In this way all previous scholarship on the understanding of Old Testament Asherah is effectively ignored. In treating the subject of Asherah in the Old Tes- tament, he utilises commentaries which could not have been aware of Uga- rit. This in and of itself is not a faulty method; however, Louie places these works in his text without noting that the Ugaritic discoveries may have modified the views of the authors.
By way of example, in his discussion on 2 Kgs. Louie also fails to distinguish extrabiblical material on the basis of its date. All sources are compared as if no time had separated them an exception being his discussion of the origin of Asherah.