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The Phoenician Solar Theology


An Investigation into the Phoenician Opinion of the Sun found in Julian's Hymn to King Helios


This book, the first study of its kind, contends that an authentic Phoenician solar theology existed, reaching back to at least the fifth or sixth century BCE. Through Azize’s examination, a portrait of a vibrant Phoenician tradition of spiritual thought emerges: a native tradition not dependent upon Hellenic thought, but related to other Semitic cultures of the ancient Near East, and, of course, to Egypt. In light of this analysis, it can be seen that Phoenician religion possessed a unique organizing power in which the sun, the sun god, life, death, and humanity, were linked in a profound system.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 1-59333-210-6
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Aug 8,2005
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 348
ISBN: 1-59333-210-6
$99.00
$59.40

This is the first examination of the fragments of the solar theology of the Phoenicians. Beginning from the Emperor Julian’s fourth-century statement, that, in the opinion of the Phoenicians, "the sunlight which is sent forth everywhere is the immaculate action of pure mind itself," this book contends that there existed an authentic and ancient Phoenician solar theology, similar to that described by Julian, reaching back to the sixth or fifth century BCE. Such a theology is described in Damaskios’ quotation from Mochos, the Sidonian philosopher. A passage from Philo of Byblos, preserved in John Lydus, and referring to “the noetic light,” strengthens this argument. Phoenician funerary inscriptions are examined, together with relevant artistic evidence and some surviving accounts of Phoenician thought. Altogether, a portrait of Phoenician spiritual thought emerges: a native tradition not dependent upon Hellenic thought, but related to other Semitic cultures of the ancient Near East, and, of course, to Egypt. Many themes and motifs from ancient Phoenician religion are discussed, such as the phoenix bird (the “Phoenician” bird) which was associated with the concept of immortality, and the possibility that there was a Phoenician cult of “Yhwh”. The book abstracts seven ideas from the extant material as axial concepts. In light of this analysis, it can be seen that Phoenician religion possessed a unique organizing power in which the sun, the sun god, life, death, and humanity, were linked in a profound system, which seems to have been common amongst the Phoenician city states.

This is the first examination of the fragments of the solar theology of the Phoenicians. Beginning from the Emperor Julian’s fourth-century statement, that, in the opinion of the Phoenicians, "the sunlight which is sent forth everywhere is the immaculate action of pure mind itself," this book contends that there existed an authentic and ancient Phoenician solar theology, similar to that described by Julian, reaching back to the sixth or fifth century BCE. Such a theology is described in Damaskios’ quotation from Mochos, the Sidonian philosopher. A passage from Philo of Byblos, preserved in John Lydus, and referring to “the noetic light,” strengthens this argument. Phoenician funerary inscriptions are examined, together with relevant artistic evidence and some surviving accounts of Phoenician thought. Altogether, a portrait of Phoenician spiritual thought emerges: a native tradition not dependent upon Hellenic thought, but related to other Semitic cultures of the ancient Near East, and, of course, to Egypt. Many themes and motifs from ancient Phoenician religion are discussed, such as the phoenix bird (the “Phoenician” bird) which was associated with the concept of immortality, and the possibility that there was a Phoenician cult of “Yhwh”. The book abstracts seven ideas from the extant material as axial concepts. In light of this analysis, it can be seen that Phoenician religion possessed a unique organizing power in which the sun, the sun god, life, death, and humanity, were linked in a profound system, which seems to have been common amongst the Phoenician city states.

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Contributor

Joseph Azize

  • Analytic Table of Contents
  • Figures
  • Introduction
  • The Question and the Method
  • Julian and the "Solar Pericope"
  • The Remaining Phoenician Pericopes
  • Julian and His Sources
  • Julian and Iamblichos
  • The Phoenicians
  • The Sun Goddess of Ugarit
  • Phoenician Solar Religion: The Funerary Inscriptions
  • Phoenician Solar Religion: Miscellaneous Evidence
  • Mochos, Eudemos, and Philo of Byblos
  • Other Late Evidence
  • Conclusion