Professor Nick Wyatt

Professor Emeritus

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My career in Religious Studies fell into two parts. From 1970 to 1988, I lectured in Indian Religions and Israelite Religion at Glasgow, with short contracts in Stirling—1975, Early Hinduism—and Ibadan—1977, Old Testament and Hebrew. From 1988 to 2005, I taught at Edinburgh, where I was given the opportunity for greater specialisation, I developed a long-pursued interest in the significance of Ugaritic literature for understanding the background to the Hebrew Bible. The latter, in my view, cannot be treated seriously in isolation from surrounding cultural cross-currents. ‘Israel’ (and Judah) were rooted in the prevailing ‘Canaanite’ culture of the Levant, which in turn was substantially influenced by Egyptian and Mesopotamian thought. Ugarit (Tell Ras Shamra) continues to provide the single most important archive of Levantine literature, ritual and ideological texts for use in comparative studies.

Three themes in particular have inspired my work: cosmology, royal ideology and mythology. With local emphases of its own, the conceptualisation of the biblical cosmos shared many features with neighbouring cultures. The cult of Yahweh, generally represented as the national and monotheistic cult of the nation(s), was in origin the royal cult of Judah, and its champions the prophets generally found themselves sharply opposed both to its uncritical adoption of prevailing mores, as it absorbed other local cultic forms, and to the broader polytheistic religion which characterised Israel, Judah and their neighbours down to Hellenistic times. A surprising number of biblical scholars are at pains to deny the very idea of a biblical mythology. In my view, the idea of a mythless religion is an oxymoron of the most pernicious kind. A further interest has been in historiography, and I have attempted to set the supposed (distinctive) historical consciousness of the Old Testament within the broader ancient Near Eastern setting. At the same time, in recent studies I have attempted to give specifically historical settings to the main poetic traditions of Ugarit, setting the three narrative poems Baal, Kirta and Aqhat in the context of the late thirteenth century monarchy.

Distinguishing wood and trees in the waters: creation in biblical thought, and two response chapters, in R. WATSON—A.H.W. CURTIS (eds), Conversations on Canaanite and Biblical Themes: Creation, Chaos and Monotheism. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter. June 2022.

Immortality and the rise of resurrection, 141-69 in F. STAVRAKOPOULOU (ed.), Life and Death: Social Perspectives on Biblical Bodies. Hebrew Bible in Social Perspective; Bloomsbury—T & T Clark. 2021.

Ilimilku of Ugarit, l’homme et l’œuvre: an enquiry into a scribe’s authorial role, 9-19 in M. CHOAT—R. YUEN-COLLINGRIDGE—J. CROMWELL—R. AST—J. LOUGOVAYA (eds), Observing the Scribe at Work: Scribal Practice in the Ancient World. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 301, Louvain: Peeters. 2021.

An echo of the Ugaritic Baal Cycle in the Song of Moses? An exploration in historical theology, 17-34 in S. HILDEBRANDT—K.R. PETERS—E. ORTLUND (eds), From Words to Meaning. Studies on Old Testament Language and Theology for David J. Reimer. Sheffield: Phoenix. 2021.

V. MATOÏAN—G. MAZZINI—W.G.E. WATSON—N. WYATT (eds), Ugarit-Forschungen: Internationales Jahrbuch für die Altertumskunde Syrien-Palästinas 51 [2020] (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag).

V. MATOÏAN— G. MAZZINI—W.G.E. WATSON—N. WYATT (eds), Ugarit-Forschungen: Internationales Jahrbuch für die Altertumskunde Syrien-Palästinas 50 [2019]. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag. publ. 2020.

A ritual response to a natural disaster: KTU 1.119.31 = RS 24.266.31 revisited, Ugarit-Forschungen 50, 2019: 453-69.

The Rumpelstiltskin factor: explorations in the arithmetic of pantheons, 88-128 in H. B. HUFFMON—A. J. FERRARA (eds), Some Wine and Honey for Simon. Eugene OR: Wipf and Stock. 2020.

Seeing the Error of His Ways? The problem of the correct text at RS 3. 367 = KTU 1.2 iv 11-26, Notes Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires 2018.1 §21, 32-35. (ELECTRONIC JOURNAL)

V. MATOÏAN—G. MAZZINI—W.G.E. WATSON—N. WYATT (eds), Ugarit-Forschungen: Internationales Jahrbuch für die Altertumskunde Syrien-Palästinas 49 [2018]. Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.

The Baal au Foudre stela and its historical context, Ugarit-Forschungen 49, 2018: 329-37.

W.G.E. WATSON—N. WYATT (eds), Ugarit-Forschungen: Internationales Jahrbuch für die Altertumskunde Syrien-Palästinas 48 [2017] (Münster: Ugarit-Verlag).

National memory, seismic activity at Ras Shamra and the composition of the Baal Cycle, Ugarit-Forschungen 48, 2017: 551-91.

The problem of “dying and rising” gods: the case of Baal, Ugarit-Forschungen 48, 2017: 819-45.

The evidence of the colophons in the assessment of Ilimilku’s scribal and authorial role, Ugarit-Forschungen 46, 2015: 399-446.

A royal garden: the ideology of Eden, Scandinavian Journal for the Old Testament 28, 2014: 1-35.