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Stories from Ancient Canaan

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  142 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Contained on fifteen of the cuneiform tables uncovered at the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit are the four major oral Ugartic myths of Aqhat, The Healers, Kirta and Baal. Stories from Ancient Canaan is the first to offer a one-volume translation of all four. This accessible book teaches the principal Canaanite religious literature, and will be useful to students of the hi ...more
Paperback, 124 pages
Published January 1st 1978 by Westminster John Knox Press
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Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book has 5 stories from Ugarit, an ancient city in what is now Syria. The stories were written on clay tablets about 1375 BCE and placed in a temple to Baal, one of the leading gods in ancient Canaan. This was about 400 years before the first stories in the bible were written down, c. 920BCE. Before the stories were written down they were passed from generation to generation orally.
The 5 stories tell about the exploits of men and gods. What is surprising about the stories is how closely th
Caleb Ausbury
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Stories from Ancient Canaan contains stories found on clay tablets in the city of Ugarit (modern-day Syria) that are thought to be written before the texts of the Bible. As such, they are helpful for informing us about ancient Canaanite beliefs and culture. The gods present in these stories include Baal, a frequently depicted storm god in the Old Testament, and El, the father of the gods who becomes known as the same deity as Yahweh to the Israelites. This is apparent in the Bible itself, when Y ...more
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've been having a blast this summer really digging into the Bible and reading complementary works on comparative religion, so it was only natural that I got STORIES FROM ANCIENT CANAAN. It is a translation of key Ugaritic texts dealing with Canaanite myths, including Aqhat, Kirta, and Baal. The crown jewel is, at least in my estimation, the Baal cycle, which tells of the Canaanite storm god's efforts to build himself a palace, his conquering and subsequent consumption by Death, and his resurrec ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Very accessible to someone like me who knows nothing about Ugarit. Fun fact I learned from this book: the expression “hair of the dog” (in reference to a hangover) is 3000+ years old.
Steve Cran

A score of tablet were found in an archeological excavation located in Ancient Ugarit a Canaanite City in Syria. Today the place is called Ras Shamra. The Canaanites had a language that was a predecessor to Israelite Hebrew . The Canaanite never had a large empire because their units of organization were city states. Usually each city state had it's own king and usually was dedicated to one particular God in the Canaanite pantheon. The City of Ugarit was eventually conquered by Myceneans. Befor
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*I would like to express my gratitude to Westminster John Knox Press for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. Additionally, because the first edition was published in 1978, I will primarily focus on the newest additions, rather than repeat any old critiques.

First published in 1978, Michael Coogan and Mark Smith’s Stories from Ancient Canaan was a hit. At that time it made Ugaritic literature accesible to non-professional readers. By presenting the principle Canaanit
Adam Tomlinson
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, history
SfAC is an excellent text when it comes to helping readers understand the sociological, religious, and political contexts that the early Old Testament was comprised in. Further, I was truly awed by God's handiwork to keep some of the pre-biblical tropes, archetypes, and myths in the minds of humanity up to and through the Apocalyptic periods of Israelite history (Late first and second Temple). This was much easier my 2nd time through, and with a better grasp on the ANE than before.

Regardless, t
Grady McCallie
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: before-1000-bce
The four myths in this collection were translated from clay tablets found in the ruins of the ancient city of Ugarit, razed during the regional collapse at the end of the Bronze Age. The critical apparatus consists of a long introductory essay, as well as essays on each myth; they are excellent, and serve as a road map to interesting formal and substantive details in each of the translated poems. It was first published in 1978, but since the originals were written down sometime in the mid-1300s ...more
Matt Lawrence
This book was short and sweet to anyone who enjoys reading about Ancient Canaan and their pantheon of gods. Mostly the book feels like an introduction to the Ugaritic texts that have been found. There're explanations of details in the story that can be odd to moderns. Coogan also refers to other ancient near eastern text, which would include Mesopotamia and Ancient Israel. The only problem with this book is that it lacks detail to anyone familiar with the data, instead it would be more recommend ...more
Sep 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
We are familiar with names like Baal and Asherah from the Old Testament, and are often only aware of Israelite history. This book contains stories from the same time period but are the religious traditions of the Canaanites, which we also know from the Bible. I found this book fascinating, to say the least. It contains the story of Baal and is an excellent window into Canaanite culture and religious tradition, which is mentioned in the Bible but not explained. Expect it to read like Job, and don ...more
Emma B
May 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Okay stories, though a bit too biblical in tone for me. Anat is definitely a fantastic goddess, and the Baal story I will definitely be reading and rereading. Kirta, however, did not interest me so much. The translation was okay, but I think it could have been a little better done. The sentence structure was quite choppy, as if directly translated, with no room for making it attractive in the new language.

Still, some fun little myths if you don't mind breaks where text was missing!
Sarah Ryburn
Sep 15, 2008 rated it liked it
interesting read. actually found the essays more interesting than the text. in all fairness, the reader doesn't get the full story from the texts which were translated from badly damaged tablets. stories inscribed in clay and then fired to form solid tablets. kinda reminds me of the ten commandments... except totally pagan... hmm.
Scott Law
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bible-study
Although not what I was looking for, which was more the rituals that the actual people were performed, this was a good look at the mythologies involved directly referencing the available texts from remaining tablets. Recommend if ancient mythology is of any interest.
Amanda Wulf
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. It was an incredible experience to read this book. It gives a lot of insight into the ancient Canaanite culture which in turn helps our understanding of the Old Testament. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Bible.
Smallest Tiger
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, mythology
Really enjoyable!
Philip Ryan
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent little book on the narratives from Ras Shamra.
Ashley Wolf
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Mar 15, 2015
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Mark S. Smith is Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at New York University. He has served as visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Smith was elected vice president of the Catholic Biblical Association in 2009.

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