Professor Nick Wyatt

Honorary Fellow

Background

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.

Articles

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

The problem of “dying and rising” gods: the case of Baal, (Paris 2016 Colloque Proceedings), Ugarit-Forschungen 48: 819-45. 

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

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

Royal religion in ancient Judah, 61-81 in F. Stavrakopoulou—J. Barton (editors) Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel (London: T. & T. Clark.). 

The concept and purpose of Hell: its nature and development in West Semitic thought, Numen 56:161-84. 

Circumcision and circumstance: male genital mutilation in ancient Israel and Ugarit, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 33:405-31. 

Books 

Edited book, with G. del Olmo Lete—J. Vidal (G. del Olmo Lete—J. Vidal—N. Wyatt, editors), The Perfumes of Seven Tamarisks: Studies in Honour of Wilfred G. E. Watson (Alter Orient und Altes Testament 394, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag 2012). 

Authored book, The Archaeology of Myth: Papers on Old Testament Tradition (Bible World, London: Equinox 2010). 

Authored book, Word of Tree and Whisper of Stone, and Other Papers on Ugaritian Thought (Gorgias Ugaritic Series 1, Piscataway NJ: Gorgias Press 2007).   

Authored book, The Mythic Mind: Essays on Cosmology in Ugaritic and Old Testament Literature (Bible World, London: Equinox 2005).   

Authored book, ‘There’s Such Divinity Doth Hedge a King’: Selected Essays of Nicolas Wyatt on Royal Ideology in Ugaritic and Old Testament Literature (SOTS Monograph Series, London: Ashgate 2005). 

Authored book, Religious Texts from Ugarit (The Biblical Seminar 53, London: Continuum: second edition 2002). 

Authored book, Space and Time in the Religious Life of the Ancient Near East (The Biblical Seminar 85, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 2001). 

Edited book, with W. G. E. Watson : (W. G. E. Watson—N. Wyatt editors)  Handbook of Ugaritic Studies (Handbuch der Orientalistik, Series I vol. 39, Leiden: Brill 1999).  Reprinted paperback, Atlanta GA: SBL Press, 2015 

Authored book, Myths of Power.  A Study of Royal Myth and Ideology in Ugaritic and Biblical Tradition (Ugaritisch-Biblische Literatur 13, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag 1996). 

Edited book, with W. G. E. Watson and J. B. Lloyd (N. Wyatt—W. G. E. Watson—J. B. Lloyd editors) Ugarit, Religion and Culture.  Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Ugarit, Religion and Culture  Edinburgh July 1994. Essays in Honour of Professor J. C. L. Gibson (Ugaritisch-Biblische Literatur 12, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 1996).