Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Leviathan in its ancient Near Eastern context - New HQ video

I've got a new Youtube channel going. The goal of these videos is to make top scholarship accessible to the person in the pew in a visually beautiful format that will rival all the nonsense on the web on these topics (no, Leviathan wasn't a plesiosaur). Glad I can also redeem a bit of those years spent in art school.

The Geek Stuff:
1] Quoted with commentary in Aïcha Rahmouni, trans., J.N. Ford, Divine Epithets in the Ugaritic Alphabetic Texts (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 300.  For those unfamiliar with Ugaritic, the abbreviation “KTU” refers to the numbering system in The Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts from Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani and Other Places, ed. M. Dietrich, O. Loretz, and J. Sanmartín, (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1995).

2] Ola Wikander, “From Indo-European Dragon-Slaying to Isaiah 27.1: A Study in the Longue Durée,” in Studies in Isaiah: History, Theology, and Reception, ed. Wasserman, Andersson and Willgren, Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 654 (Oxford: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017), 117. Available:

3] Ibid. Williams points out the Leviathan parallel to new students of Ugaritic in the first lesson of his popular grammar. Michael Williams, Basics of Ancient Ugaritic: A Concise Grammar, Workbook, and Lexicon (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 20. Rahmouni also states, “As is well known, the parallel pair btn brh // btn ‘qltn is the exact semantic equivalent of the Biblical Hebrew נחש עקלתון // נחש ברח (Isa. 27:1), which explicitly refers to לויתן ‘Leviathan,’ the Hebrew equivalent of Ltn.” Divine Epithets, 143.

4] KTU 1.3:III:38-46, quoted in John Day’s God's Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea: Echoes of a Canaanite Myth in the Old Testament (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 13-14.

5] KTU 1.5:I:3. See comments in Rahmouni, Divine Epithets, 300.

6] C. Uehlinger, “Leviathan” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (DDD) ed. K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 511-515.

7] Marjo Korpel and Johannes de Moor argue for Apophis’ similar chaos symbolism in “The Leviathan in the Ancient Near East,” in Playing with Leviathan: Interpretation and Reception of Monsters from the Biblical World, ed. Bekkum et al. (Netherlands: Brill, 2017), 7. They propose that the Egyptian cosmic ouroboros (like that depicted on the Papyrus of Dama Heroub) explains why dragons like Leviathan were cross-culturally described with the titles “fleeing serpent,” and “twisting/coiled serpent.” These titles seem to correspond with the idea that the circular cosmic ocean was represented as an enormous circular serpent eternally chasing its own “fleeing” tail.

[8] See K. Spronk, “Rahab” in DDD, 685.

9] See Henry Rowold, “מי הוא? לי הוא!: Leviathan and Job in Job 41:2-3,” Journal of Biblical Literature 105.1 (1986), 108.

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