Master of Arts (MA)
Primary Subject Area
History, Middle Eastern; Religion, Biblical Studies
comparative studies, divine council, divine function, El, Ugarit, Yahweh
The importance of the Ugaritic texts discovered in 1929 to ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Studies is one of constant debate. The Ugaritic texts offer a window into the cosmology that shaped the ancient Near East and Semitic religions. One of the profound concepts is the idea of a divine council and its function in maintaining order in the cosmos. Over this council sits a high god identified as El in the Ugaritic texts whose divine function is to maintain order in the divine realm as well on earth. Due to Ugarit's involvement in the ancient world and the text's representation of Canaanite cosmology, scholars have argued that the Ugaritic pantheon is evidenced in the Hebrew Bible where Yahweh appears in conjunction with other divine beings. Drawing on imagery from both the Ugaritic and Hebrew texts, scholars argue that Yahweh was not originally the high god of Israel, and the idea of "Yahweh alone" was a progression throughout the biblical record. However, there are scholars who understand the divine council motif as a common image among all ancient Semitic peoples, and while the biblical writers use the imagery of divine council, they do not adopt the theology. The questions that arise are: do the Hebrew Scriptures allow for Ugaritic parallelism? Is the divine council in the Hebrew Scriptures an import from Ugarit? And if so, what is the function of Yahweh in these council settings? To answer these questions, this thesis explores the views and responses presented by scholars who analyze two key passages in the debate where the Yahweh/El polemic is suggested: Deuteronomy 32:8-9 and Psalm 82.