In the first issue of Ancient History Magazine, I will be reviewing Adam, Eve, and the Devil. A New Beginning by Marjo Korpel and Johannes de Moor. The authors claim to have found traces of a Bronze Age myth about Adam, a serpent, and the tree of life. This is not the place to discuss their readings of Ugaritic tablets – you will have to wait for our first issue – but it is an interesting book, written by two authors who show a recommendable disrespect for disciplinary boundaries: cuneiform sources from Mesopotamia, Zoroastrian stories, Greek mythology, and Biblical texts are combined. Iconographic evidence is taken into account as well.
The protagonist in the Ugaritic myth is a snake-god named Horranu or Hilalu. After losing a conflict with the supreme god, he is cast out of heaven, and falls down in the south-Syrian region that is still known as the Hauran. To avenge himself, he posits himself as a giant serpent in the Ugaritic equivalent of the Garden of Eden, threatening to poison the tree of life. Immortality is now in peril and the gods send one of them, Adammu, to kill the serpent, but he loses the fight. In the end, a kind of compromise is found: death has become inevitable, but immortality remains possible by procreation.
[Read more on the blog of Ancient History Magazine.]