Authors: Michael D. Coogan and Mark S. Smith
Bibliographic info: 194 pp.
Publisher: Westminster John Knox, 2012.
Buy the book at Amazon.
With thanks to WJK for the review copy!
This short book is an updated edition of what was originally published over three decades ago on 1978. It provides an accessible presentation of the key Canaanite literature (written in Ugaritic) that were recovered at Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) on the Syrian coast, during excavations starting in 1928. The discovery of the clay tablets containing these Ugaritic stories provide us with good insights into the Ancient Near East and illumination of the Hebrew Bible.
This updated edition is needed due to the advances in understanding of ancient Ugaritic literature that have developed over the past few decades, and the translations of the Ugaritic texts used in this updated edition will no doubt be the best (at least in terms of accuracy) that one can find (in English at least). Two additional texts are discussed in this updated edition: The Lovely Gods and El’s Drinking Party. The other stories discussed are Aqhat, the Rephaim, Kirta, and the Baal cycle.
The eBook version I received for review is, unfortunately, quite subpar. The formatting is very poor. An even more annoying problem is that none of the illustrations are in the eBook! Bad formatting is a recurring problem with the Wesminster John Knox eBooks I have received, but it may have something to do with the fact that I get mine through the Edelweiss program, so I am not sure if the Kindle editions from Amazon have the same problems or not.
This small volume is accessible to the nonacademic and I would definitely recommend it for anyone interested in the history of the Canaanite religion or for background information on the Hebrew Bible. Though I must add the caveat that this recommendation would only be for the print edition and not the electronic edition.