M. Victoria Almansa-Villatoro
This article sets out to address questions concerning local religious traditions in ancient Nubia. Data concerning Egyptian gods in the Sudan are introduced, then the existence of unattested local pre-Meroitic gods is reconstructed using mainly external literary sources and an analysis of divine names. A review of other archaeological evidence from an iconographic point of view is also attempted, concluding with the presentation of Meroitic gods and their relation with earlier traditions. This study proposes that Egyptian religious beliefs were well integrated in both official and popular cults in Nubia. The Egyptian and the Sudanese cultures were constantly in contact in the border area and this nexus eased the transmission of traditions and iconographical elements in a bidirectional way. The Meroitic gods are directly reminiscent of the reconstructed indigenous Kushite pantheon in many aspects, and this fact attests to an attempt by the Meroitic rulers to recover their Nubian cultural identity.
In spite of renewed scholarly interest in the religion of Judeans living on the island of Elephantine during the Persian period, only one recent study has addressed the religious significance of the fired clay female figurines discovered there. The present article seeks to place these objects back on the research agenda. After summarizing the history of research, it also makes a new appraisal of the role of these objects in the religious life of Elephantine Judeans. Two factors prompt this reevaluation: first, newly found examples of the same figurine types; and second, Bob Becking’s recent research on Elephantine Aramaic texts attesting the phenomenon of “lending deities.”
Jacques van der Vliet
A reedition and analysis of a late (ca. 10th–11th cent.) Coptic magical charm found at Saqqara. The commentary links the charm to pre-Christian models and discusses the possible modes of transmission of traditional ritual knowledge in Christian Egypt.
The article discusses the date and cultural background of the Elisha and Naaman story (2 Kings 5). It first analyses the story and emphasizes the difference in its presentation of the prophet and the way he operates vis-à-vis all other stories in the Elisha story-cycle. It then analyses Naaman’s request to carry soil from the Land of Israel in order to erect an altar for Yhwh in Damascus (5:17) and brings evidence that the transportation of earth from one sacred place to another was known in Mesopotamia from the late second millennium BCE onward. In light of all the available evidence, it suggests that the story is not part of Elisha’s original story-cycle; rather, it illuminates the shift of ideas about the prophet, his prophecy, and the land of Israel in the transition from the monarchical to the early post-exilic period.