I have a serious question about the Bible’s authenticity. Why did the biblical Prophets borrow characteristics from Canaanite/Ugaritic epic poetry and apply them to Yahweh? For e.g., Nahum (1:4-6) and Habakkuk (3:14-15) describe God as an avenging warrior God similar to Canaanite/Ugaritic storm god Baal.  Your response?


First of all, you say this is a question about the authenticity of the Bible.  I do not see how a question about one of the descriptions of Jehovah in the Old Testament is relevant to the “authenticity” of the Bible.  In fact, what do you even mean by the word “authenticity?”  A thing is authentic if it is the real thing.  In this case, Nahum 1:4-6 or Habakkuk 3:14-15 are “authentic” if they were in fact written by Nahum or Habakkuk.  How would the authenticity of the prophecies be brought into question if these prophets described God as an avenging warrior God?  I do not see the connection.  Perhaps you need a different word than authenticity. Perhaps you are questioning the legitimate prophetic nature of these books. Let me talk about this.
I looked up the relevant passages.  Here is Nahum 1:4-6: “He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.  Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.”  I see no evidence of a warrior God in this passage. This is typical Jewish apocalyptic language.  Where are the weapons? Where is the war?  I do see that God takes vengeance on those who oppose him.  This is consistent with the picture of God throughout the Bible.  There is no avenging warrior/God here.
So, whoever told you that Nahum borrows the Canaanite/Ugaritic epic avenging warrior God is not speaking truthfully.  This is a spurious charge.  It simply is not true, at least in the case of Nahum 1:4-6. You ask why Nahum borrowed.  The answer, clearly, is that he did not borrow from a Canaanite warrior/God.
As for Habakkuk 3:14-15, here is the text: “With his own spear, you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were hiding. You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters.”  First of all, this is highly symbolic apocalyptic language.  Second, the one with a spear in this apocalyptic passage is not God, but the “leader of the land of wickedness,” whose spear God causes to be turned against him.  Again, this is highly symbolic, not literal language, and, besides, the only “warrior” here is the one who is the enemy of God.  However God is described in the Habakkuk passage, it is not as a warrior/God.
So, my response is that this is a spurious charge.  I wonder who is making this charge? What is their motivation?  What Ugaritic text are they proposing that Habakkuk is supposedly stealing from?  I simply do not see it.
John Oakes

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