Indo-European and Indo-Europeans in the Old Testament World

Project: Research

Project Details

Layman's description

The project deals with early interactions between the Old Testament world and the surrounding Indo-European cultures. What early examples are there of linguistic and conceptual influence from Indo-European on the texts we know today as the Old Testament - and vice versa? Did these linguistic and cultural spheres borrow ideas and stories from one another?

Old Testament culture and that of the ancient Indo-European peoples of Southwest Asia were perhaps not as different from one another as one might think - perhaps they were rather good neighbors, happily sharing ideas, thoughts and words with one another?

The library of texts that we know today as the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible evolved for nearly a millennium. Its authors were influenced both by their own Israelite environment and other Near Eastern cultures.

The Indo-European languages, the language family to which most European languages belong (as well as the Indian classical language, Sanskrit), were represented in Southwest Asia at an early period. The clearest example is found in Asia Minor, where the Indo-European languages Hittite and Luwian were spoken in the Bronze Age. In my research, I focus on the interactions between the Old Testament and the surrounding Indo-European cultures. One example of such possible interactions is the stories concerning a divine hero and his struggle against a large sea monster, a type of tale spread across the entire Indo-European linguistic area. Yet the Old Testament and its neighboring cultures have also similar ideas. The Hebrew Bible tells of Yahweh battling a sea monster called Leviathan, Rahav, or simply Yam, The Sea. Have these tales of dragon-slaying influenced one other, and if so, in what way? Other examples relate to specific words, such as the Hebrew word for 'horse', possibly borrowed from Luwian.
Effective start/end date2012/01/012016/12/31