Baal, St. George, and Khidr
A Study of the Historical Geography of the Levant
Robert D. Miller II
In Western tradition, St. George is known as the dragon slayer. In the Middle East, he is called Khidr (“Green One”), and in addition to being a dragon slayer, he is also somehow the prophet Elijah. In this book, Robert D. Miller II untangles these complicated connections and reveals how, especially in his Middle Eastern guise, St. George is a reincarnation of the Canaanite storm god Baal, another “Green One” who in Ugaritic texts slays dragons.
Combining art history, theology, and archeology, this multidisciplinary study demystifies the identity of St. George in his various incarnations, laying bare the processes by which these identifications merged and diverged. Miller traces the origins of this figure in Arabic and Latin texts and explores the possibility that Middle Eastern shrines to St. George lie on top of ancient shrines of the Canaanite storm god Baal. Miller examines these holy places, particularly in modern Israel and around Mount Hermon on the Syrian-Lebanese-Israeli border, and makes the convincing case that direct continuity exists from the Baal of antiquity to the St. George/Khidr of Christian lore.
Convincingly argued and thoroughly researched, this study makes a unique contribution to such diverse areas as ancient Near Eastern studies, Roman history and religion, Christian hagiography and iconography, Quranic studies, and Arab folk religion.