Jim West announced on his blog today that I was the winner of his giveaway of the brand new volume An Introduction to Ugaritic by John Huenegard. Since he said that I had the most compelling answer regarding why I deserved the book, it seemed it might be worth sharing what I wrote. I realize that my having the “most compelling answer” may be a polite way of saying that, of the very small number of entries in his giveaway, mine was the least lame by a very tiny margin.
Here’s what I wrote, in answer to his three questions:
1- In a few paragraphs describe how you came to be interested in Ugaritic.
The answer to this question requires multiple paragraphs. If there is one thing that I have learned from my undergraduate students, it is that one can always postpone the substance of what one has to say by including an introductory paragraph which does nothing other than postpone the matter at hand.
I am interested in Ugaritic for many reasons. I have long been fascinated with the texts that provide earlier parallels to stories and concepts we find in the Bible, and so I have been interested in Ugarit and the texts recovered there ever since I was an undergraduate. With my recent focus on Mandaic and other dialects of Aramaic, I have been focusing more attention on Semitic languages, and would love to be able to explore Ugaritic as well.
But in the final paragraph, I will confess the real reason for my interest in the volume. I am primarily a New Testament scholar. Most NT scholars know Koine Greek and little else. I would like to be the one cool guy in gatherings of NT scholars who knows Ugaritic.
2- Are you presently in University or Grad School and pursuing Ugaritic studies?
No – who would be so foolish as to pursue Ugaritic in grad school, when one can devote that time to major languages and learn Ugaritic on one’s own with the help of a handy volume like the one you are giving away?
3- If you’re chosen as the completely random winner based on your responses to the first 2 questions above, what will you do with the volume?
If I win I promise that I will never use the volume for the purpose of propping up table legs, swatting flies, or corporal punishment. I will, on the other hand, read it over and over again until I know Ugaritic!