Life and Mortality in Ugaritic

A Lexical and Literary Study

By (author) Matthew McAffee

Hardback - £95.95

Publication date:

07 June 2019

Length of book:

392 pages



ISBN-13: 9781575066639

While topics such as death, funerary cult, and the netherworld have received considerable scholarly attention in the context of the Ugaritic textual corpus, the related concept of life has been relatively neglected. Life and Mortality in Ugaritic takes as its premise that one cannot grasp the significance of mwt (“to die”) without first having wrestled with the concept of ḥyy (“to live”).

In this book, Matthew McAffee takes a lexical approach to the study of life and death in the Ugaritic textual corpus. He identifies and analyzes the Ugaritic terms most commonly used to talk about life and mortality in order to construct a more representative framework of the ancient perspective on these topics, and he concludes by synthesizing the results of this lexical study into a broader literary discussion that considers, among other things, the implications for our understanding of the first-millennium Katumuwa stele from Zincirli.

McAffee’s study complements previous scholarly work in this area, which has tended to rely on conceptual and theoretical treatment of mortality, and advances the discussion by providing a more focused lexical analysis of the Ugaritic terms in question. It will be of interest to Semitic scholars and those who study Ugaritic in particular, in addition to students of the culture of the ancient Levant.

“McAffee . . . brings much-needed nuance to past philological discussions and is able to confirm and reject previous proposals based on both etymological and literary analysis. McAffee’s most important contribution, however, is drawing attention to the relevance of [concepts related to life and mortality] to the realm of the living, which provides a significant expansion on past research that has primarily addressed them in the context of funerary cult.”

—Timothy Hogue, Review of Biblical Literature