Glossary of Christian & Religious Terms
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A narrative style of Hebrew poetry from 1400 BCE, believed to have become extinct sometime in 800 BCE, attributed to the poetic style of the Psalms. Based on Sumerian cuneiform and used by the Canaanites, it was a Semitic alphabet of thirty distinct abstract pictographic representations written on clay tablets (somewhat like heiroglyphics, but more similar to Assyrian or Akkadian in appearance). The name is derived from the lost, Bronze Age city of Ugarit, Syria (6,000 BCE-1200 BCE, located near Ras Shamrah on the Mediterranean), where several libraries of Canaanite text (including myhtological accounts about the cults of El, Baal, Asherah, and Dagon) and some Hebrew texts were discovered in 1928, many having been written in the same Ugaritic language. Until this discovery, nothing was known of the language, but now some scholars believe that Ugaritic may have later developed into the Hebrew alphabet. Of major importance regarding these texts is the description of Canaanite life and religion before the Israelite occupation, the possibility that the Israelites assimilated Canaanite beliefs, as well as the use of the ancient language to assist in the translation of difficult Hebrew passages of the Old Testament.

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