Ola Wikander is a CRASSH Visiting Fellow 2021-22 and will be at the Centre from October 2021 until June 2022.
Ola Wikander is currently conducting a larger project on Northwest Semitic historical/etymological poetics. The project title is “The Words of the Storm Gods: Reconstructing the Common Mytho-Poetic Language of Northwest Semitic”. During his time at Cambridge, Wikander will be working on the monograph part of this project; the book will aim at analyzing “poetic inheritance” not only in the more archaic parts of the Hebrew Bible but in later texts as well, studying the wide and slow-moving river of Northwest Semitic poetics as it transformed and was integrated into the textual corpus that came to be known as the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. There is often a tacit presupposition that such ancient retentions are to be expected in the oldest layers of the Old Testament but perhaps to a lesser degree in the latter ones, but Wikander’s current work is focused to a large extent on later strata of biblical literature. The “Words of the Storm Gods” have lived on for centuries – like a slow-moving, meandering river flowing from the early Ugaritic and Hebrew texts about battling storm gods to settings closer to the birth of what we know today as Judaism and Christianity. This river is the object that the monograph is intended to illustrate.
Ola Wikander (Pro Futura Scientia fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study and Lund University) works in Old Testament Exegesis and Historical Linguistics, specializing in Northwest Semitic languages, especially Hebrew and Ugaritic (which was spoken and written on the coast of Syria during the Bronze Age). He is also Reader and Senior Lecturer in Old Testament Exegesis at Lund University, and the author of many books and articles; his monographs in English are Drought, Death, and the Sun in Ugarit and Ancient Israel: A Philological and Comparative Study (2014) and Unburning Fame: Horses, Dragons, Beings of Smoke, and Other Indo-European Motifs in Ugarit and the Hebrew Bible (2017).
Wikander works on early Northwest Semitic poetics and the survival of old and traditional motifs and poetic formulae over long periods of time. Standing at the intersection between Biblical Exegesis, History of Religion and philology, he has a background in numerous ancient languages (especially, but not exclusively, from the Ancient Near East). He works in Semitic (and partly in Indo-European) Historical Linguistics and Ancient Near Eastern languages generally, the history of Northwest Semitic poetic language, and the relations between Northwest Semitic and Indo-European-speaking cultures (especially Anatolian); he has also done work on the survival of Old Testament motifs in Gnostic/Gnosticizing literature. Major research projects have been on drought symbolism in Ugarit and the Old Testament, on Indo-European influences in Ugaritic and Hebrew texts, and on the use of philological and exegetical scholarship as a tool with which to reflect upon the problems inherent in preserving information on nuclear waste storage.