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Stories from Ancient Canaan Paperback – January 1, 1978

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)

From the Back Cover

This book teaches the principal Canaanite religious literature, and is written for the reader without linguistic or scholarly background, and should prove valuable for students of the history of religion, of the Bible, and of comparative literature.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 124 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1st edition (January 1, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664241840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664241841
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Coogan is Lecturer in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Harvard Divinity School and Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum. He has also taught at Stonehill College, Boston College, Wellesley College, Fordham University, and the University of Waterloo (Ontario), and has participated in and directed archaeological excavations in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, and Egypt. He is the author of Old Testament text books and The Old Testament VSI.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ugarit, the ancient name for modern Ras Shamra, is in northern Syria on the Mediterranean coast. In 1928 a local farmer discovered--stumbled upon--the site, and in the following years thousands of cuneiform (wedge writing) texts were unearthed by French archaeologists. The languages of these cuneiform tablets is primarily Akkadian, Sumerian and Ugaritic (the last being an unknown language before 1928). The tablets all date to a time before 1200 B.C. (the approximate date when Ugarit was conquered and destroyed). The texts are "diplomatic correspondence, legal records, remedies for horses' ailments, long lists of gods, offerings, supplies, and personnel, dictionaries of word equivalents in the various languages used in the city, and the oldest complete alphabet, with an order substantially the same as that of our own."
Dr. Coogan's book is a translation of fifteen tablets recovered from the library of the priest Ilimilku from Shubbani, who was the chief priest of Baal in the city's main temple complex. The texts were commissioned under King Niqmaddu II (c. 1375-1345), and four stories from that commissioning are here translated and published by Dr. Coogan.
The first translated story is titled Aqhat, which is the story of a man, Danel, who wants a son. After entreating the chief god El, Aqhat is born to Danel. The story then traces Aqhat and his struggles with the gods, which ends in his death.
The second story is called The Healers, and is quite fragmentary and only takes up a page of translated text.
The third story is the story Kirta (Keret). King Kirta is a sort of Job figure who entreats El for children and then receives a dream and instructions. He follows the instructions of the dream and has children.
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Format: Paperback
Michael Coogan has offered in this volume a translation of four of the stories from Ras Shamra, ancient Ugarit. These he calls Aqhat, The Healers, Kirta, and Baal. Each is preceded by a introduction. So for example, the introduction to The Healers notes that it may be a sequel to the story of Aqhat.
For a comprehensive study these and other religious texts found at Ras Shamra, see _Religious Texts from Ugarit_ by Nicolas Wyatt.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fine book. Nonacademics will not be intimidated by this slim volume. There is a nice introdction offering information about the area, religion, the tablets and such. The Myths consist of three or four stories, The Healers being a one page fragment that may well be a continuation of Aqhat. Before each story there is an brief introduction that sometimes relates it to biblical concepts. I found the Glossary of names to be quite useful. There is no index.

As for the myths themselves . . . I didn't care for them. Their primary concerns seem to be the nature of authority and/or kingship. This is useful information for understanding what was important for some of these folks back when this was written. I just don't find this to be as compelling as Gilgamesh or even some of the liturgical poetry of mesopotamia, and the language certainly did not sing to me the way that liturgical poetry does.

One cool thing that struck me about this stuff is how it can remind you of aspects of the big three monotheistic franchises:

"And if Baal the Conqueror lives,

if the Prince, the Lord of the Earth, has revived,

in a dream of El the Kind, the Compassionate,

in a vision the Creator of All,

let the heavens rain down oil,

let the wadis run with honey;

then I will know that Baal the Conqueror lives,

that the Prince, the Lord of the Earth has revived."
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Format: Paperback
This is a nice slim book for those wishing to familiarize themselves with the main themes of Canaanite mythology and how the mythology of the Canaanites influenced that of their neighbors and successors the Hebrews, and therefore that of the modern West. The translations are great and readable, and the commentary is good, if a bit light.
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