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Title: Isaiah 24-27 : studies in a cosmic polemic
Author: Barker, William Dale
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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This study primarily aims to demonstrate that: 1.) the background material for Isa. 24-27 is Canaanite, as represented in the north Canaanite Ba’al tradition of Ugarit, 2.) Isa. 24-27 is not a series of isolated allusions to various segments of the Bal’al Myth, but a coherent framework and narrative progression that has been intentionally adopted from the Ba’al-Mot Myth, and 3.) the function of Isa. 24-27 is to describe the eternal and cosmic kingship of YHWH, while condemning Canaanite deities (i.e. E1, Ba’al and his rpum, Mot, Litan, Shapash, and perhaps Asherah) and cult institutions (i.e. Ba’al worship, the asherim and the marzēah). This indicates that the message of Isa. 24-27 is in keeping with the kingship and anti-idolatry themes present elsewhere in Isaiah. With this interpretation, there is a polemic continuity between Isa. 7-13, Isa. 14-23, and Isa. 24-27. It better connects Isa. 24-27 and Isa. 28. This study begins by reviewing the recent history of interpretation of Isa. 24-27. In Chapter Two various interpretations of the Ba’al Myth are reviewed, and an alternative interpretation is proposed. Chapter Three investigates the nature and functions of chthonic deities throughout the ancient Near East, and compares them to מָוֶת in the Hebrew Bible, with particular reference to Isa. 25:6-8. Chapter Four begins with an exegetical analysis of Isa. 25:6-8, which is followed by an inquiry into banqueting practices and banqueting in the mythic literature of the ancient Near East. Chapter Five seeks to define the marzēah in Ugarit, and also distinguishes between the funerary marzēah and other types of marzēah gatherings. Chapter Six argues that Mesopotamian and Egyptian myths influenced the Ugaritic conceptualisation of Litan, but that only these Ugaritic Litan traditions had a direct influence on the Hebrew Bible’s conceptualisation of Leviathan. The chapter concludes that Leviathan in Isa. 27:1 is part of the polemic against Mot and the establishing of YHWH’s cosmic kingship over every enemy, including Death and its allies. Chapter Seven is an analysis of the Ugaritic-Hebrew parallel word pairs in Isa. 24-27. Chapter Eight looks into additional evidence of the Ugaritic background in Isa. 24-27. Chapter Nine details the evidence of a Ugaritic background to Isa. 28, and defines the connections between Isa. 24-27 and 28, all of which contribute to the proclamation of YHWH’s kingship and the condemnation of Canaanite deities and cult practices that is evident throughout Isa. 24-28. Chapter Ten concludes not simply that there is an Ugaritic background to Isa. 24-27, but that most of the Ugaritic background material exists in a single myth, narrated in less than three cuneiform tablets (KTU 1.4-1.6). The only Ugaritic material that forms background to Isa. 24-27 and comes from outside the Ba’al-Mot Myth is related to kingship, death or the marzēah cult.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available