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Ugarit and the Old Testament

, 1983
ISBN: 9780802819284

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In 1929, archeologists in Syria discovered beneath the soil of a small hill the remains and libraries of the ancient city of Ugarit, which had been destroyed by foreign invaders shortly after 1200 B.C. Written in a non-technical fashion, Ugarit and the Old Testament tells the story of that discovery and describes the life and civilization of Ugarit. Peter Craigie recounts and assesses the extraordinary impact the discovery has had on the last 50 years of Old Testament studies.

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“two large temples, one for Baal and one for Dagan.” (Page 29)

“The extraordinary nature of the discovery came only when the cuneiform writing was examined in more detail; it was not the cuneiform known from ancient Mesopotamian tablets, an exceedingly complex system involving the use of several hundred symbols. Most of these tablets unearthed on the mound of Ras Shamra were in a previously unknown type of cuneiform; there were only a few symbols, approximately twenty-six or twenty-seven as it then appeared. In other words, it looked as if these tablets from Ras Shamra, apparently dating from more than twelve hundred years before the time of Christ, were written in a kind of cuneiform alphabet.” (Pages 13–14)

“The primary significance lies in the cosmological meaning of the motifs; the Hebrew poet has taken the symbolic language of creation and adapted it to give expression to his understanding of the meaning of the Exodus. At one level, the Exodus was simply the escape of Hebrews from Egyptian slavery; at another level, it marked a new act of divine creation. Just as Genesis 1 celebrates the creation of the world, so too Exodus 15 celebrates the creation of a new people, Israel.” (Page 89)

“It is not really certain that Psalm 29 was taken over, lock, stock, and barrel, from Phoenicians or Canaanites, and merely ‘Yahwized.’ The evidence, under close examination, is rather too slender to support such a view.” (Pages 70–71)

“In 1930 he estimated that four languages had been in use in this ancient city; three years later, he revised his estimate to eight languages (Figure 7).” (Page 22)

An excellent introduction to Ugarit and its culture for the general reader. Craigie gives a fascinating account of the work undertaken at the site, including the deciphering of the language, and discusses the literature of Ugarit with reference to the Old Testament. A guide for further study completes this excellent survey, which I can recommend most highly.

—Roland Kenneth Harrison

A valuable work…carefully done, well balanced, and clearly written. Professor Craigie, rejecting the attitude that uses archaeology as a prop to support crumbling faith, correctly views such materials as background for better understanding of the Old Testament.

—William Sanford LaSor, Fuller Theological Seminary

  • Title: Ugarit and the Old Testament
  • Author: Peter Craigie
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1983
  • Pages: 119

Peter C. Craigie (1938–1985) was the academic vice president at the University of Calgary, Alberta, where he had also been a professor of religious studies and the dean of the Faculty of Humanities. He is the author of Ugarit and the Old Testament and the volume on Deuteronomy in the New International Commentary on the Old Testament.


4 ratings

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  1. Dean Poulos

    Dean Poulos


  2. Nicholas A. B. Hall
    The book begins with quite a lengthy description on the discovery of the scroll, which I found quite dull (though with historical writing I would probably think that is rarely a vice, and the details are doubtless important for erudition). Craigie's introduction to how the alphabet was decrypted was interesting; I'm ready to try my hand at decrypting an ancient alphabet now, if anybody has one lying around. The best chapter (for me in my current sitz im leben) is his introductory discussions of a few Hebrew Testament parallels. If you're new to the topic, this short book is a great way to dip your toes in.
  3. Matthew Lawrence
  4. John A. Taylor


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