The Conflict Myth and the Biblical Tradition

The Conflict Myth and the Biblical Tradition

by Debra Scoggins Ballentine


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There are many ancient West Asian stories that narrate the victory of a warrior deity over an enemy, typically a sea-god or sea dragon, and his rise to divine kingship. In The Conflict Myth and the Biblical Tradition, Debra Scoggins Ballentine analyzes this motif, arguing that it was used within ancient political and socio-religious discourses to bolster particular divine hierarchies, kings, institutions, and groups, as well as to attack others. Situating her study of the conflict topos within contemporary theorizations of myth by Bruce Lincoln, Russell McCutcheon, and Jonathan Z. Smith, Ballentine examines narratives of divine combat and instances of this conflict motif. Her study cuts across traditional disciplinary boundaries as well as constructed time periods, focusing not only on the Hebrew Bible but also incorporating Mesopotamian, early Jewish, early Christian, and rabbinic texts, spanning a period of almost three millennia - from the eighteenth century BCE to the early middle ages CE. The Conflict Myth and the Biblical Tradition advances our understanding of the conflict topos in ancient west Asian and early Jewish and Christian literatures and of how mythological and religious ideas are used both to validate and render normative particular ideologies and socio-political arrangements, and to delegitimize and invalidate others.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199370252
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 06/01/2015
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Debra Scoggins Ballentine is an assistant professor in the Department of Religion at Rutgers, where she teaches courses on the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern religions.

Table of Contents


I. Theorizing Myth in Ancient West Asian Studies
Myth Theory
Biblical Scholarship and the Category of Myth
The Ancient West Asian Milieu and the Comparative Enterprise

II. The Conflict Topos in Extant Narratives
Enuma Elish
Assur version of Enuma Elish
Ba'lu Cycle
Comparisons and Narrative Taxonomy

III. The Conflict Motif
Victorious Warrior Deities: 'Anatu, Ba'lu, and Yahweh
Yahweh's Combat against the Sea/Dragon and Its Relevance for Humans
Divine Combat within Historiography: Combined Conflict and Exodus Motifs
Yahweh vs. Human Enemies: Combat with Contemporary "Dragons"
The Temple
The Conflict Motif and Royal Figures

IV. Continued Adaptation, The Conflict Motif and the Eschaton
Hebrew Bible Eschatological Battles
Jesus/Christos as the Divine Warrior
Leviathan and Behemoth in the Eschaton and More Eschatological Battles
The "Holy One" vs. the Prince of the Sea

V. The Motif of Yahweh's Authority over the Sea and the Legitimacy of Individuals: Claiming vs. Having Power over the Sea
Antiochus IV Epiphanes

VI. Conclusion
Leave "Chaos" Out of It
The Conflict Topos, Distinctions and Comparisons


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