Biblical Archaeology Review 11:1, January/February 1985

Scholars’ Corner: Bible’s Psalm 20 Adapted for Pagan Use

Biblical Archaeology Review

A story about Ugarit in the September/October 1983 BARa explained how Psalm 29 had originally been composed as a Canaanite hymn to the storm god Baal and was later adapted for the Hebrew psalter. The hymn to Baal was modified for inclusion in Israel’s hymn book by replacing the name Baal with Yahweh, the personal name of Israel’s God. It was also modified in other ways, but the dependence of the Israelite hymn on the early Canaanite hymn was clear.

Some readers were offended by this suggestion. One reader said she was “dismay[ed]” and found the suggestion blasphemous (Queries & Comments, BAR 10:01). Others expressed similar views (Queries & Comments, BAR 10:03). The Hebrew psalmist would not use a pagan hymn for inspiration, these readers argued. A lively discussion ensued in BAR’s popular “Queries & Comments” section. For another reaction, see Queries & Comments in this issue.

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