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Anath

(261 words)

Author(s): Xella, Paolo
[German Version] A Syrian goddess, known mainly through the texts of Ras Shamra/Ugarit, but who, already played a part among the Amurrite tribes (Mari, 18th cent. bce) and perhaps also in Meskene-Emar at the end of the Bronze Age. The name's etymology is not at all certain. In Ugarit Anath is a warrior and hunter, sister and lover of Baal, the city deity, at whose side she battles against the enemies of cosmic order. While Baal disappears…

Asherah

(223 words)

Author(s): Xella, Paolo
[German Version] is a Syro-Palestinian goddess attested already in the 18th century bce in Mesopotamian sources but well known because of the Ras-Shamra/Ugarit texts and the OT polemic against her. Traces of her cult can also be found in Egypt, Anatolia and southern Arabia. The etymology of the name of the goddess is uncertain. The Semitic origin of the goddess is confirmed by the Mesopotamian …

Cult/Worship

(8,783 words)

Author(s): Baudy, Dorothea | Xella, Paolo | Ego, Beate | Niebuhr, Karl-Wilhelm | Lehmkühler, Karsten | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. History of Scholarship – III. Ancient Near East – IV. Old Testament and Early Judaism – V. New Testament – VI. Philosophy of Religion – VII. Christianity – VIII. Liturgical Practice – IX. Ethics I. Religious Studies 1. Concept The word “cult” comes from Lat. cultus. Cicero ( De senectute 56) uses the phrase cultus deorum in the sense of “worship of the gods.” It invariably refers to acts of “care and tending”; in secular contexts the word denotes agrarian work (cf. agriculture). There are analogous words in other ancient languages…

El

(866 words)

Author(s): Xella, Paolo
[German Version] is the common term in the Semitic languages (except Ethiopic) to designate both “god” generically and a West Semitic deity. The etymology of the word is uncertain (presumably deriving from the root *'WL: “to be strong/powerful”). El is often attested as a theophoric element (“ilu”) in the Mesopotamian and Syrian personal names of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium bce. In some instances the theonym could refer to the “personal god” watching over the single believer. In West Semitic areas (Late B…

Astarte

(183 words)

Author(s): Xella, Paolo
[German Version] Syrian goddess, already widely known in the Bronze Age (Ebla, Mari, Emar, Ugarit; unclear relationship to Mesopotamian Inanna/Ishtar). The cult spread from the Phoenician coastal cities into the Mediterranean area: Egypt (from the middle of the 2nd millennium bce onward), Israel (polemical references to the cult in the OT), Cyprus and Greece (possible influence on the genesis of Aphrodite, regarded by the Greeks themselves as a goddess …

Atargatis

(211 words)

Author(s): Xella, Paolo
[German Version] Goddess of heaven and fertility, whose cult is attested from the end of the 4th century bce and was spread through Syria and northern Mesopotamia. Thence, under the name “Dea Syria,” the goddess spread westward, assimilated to Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis, and other goddesses, and successfully advanced into the Roman Empire. The divine name derives from the fusion of Anath …