Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 54:3 (Sep 2011)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Nuzi Texts and Their Uses as Historical Evidence. By Maynard Paul Maidman. Writings from the Ancient World, 18. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010, xxvi + 296 pp., $34.95 paper.

The Society of Biblical Literature series “Writings from the Ancient World” offers students, teachers, and general readers the opportunity to compare ancient Near Eastern texts with written materials from other parts of the world. The overall series goal is to provide up-to-date, readable English translations of a wide range of genres attested throughout the various cultures and periods of the ancient Near East (letters, myths, hymns, economic documents, administrative records, and more). Reliable and clear translations should naturally prove to be “valuable sources of information on daily life, history, religion, and the like in the preclassical world” (p. ix). Previous installments in the series include works on textual materials from Sumer, Mesopotamia, Ugarit, and Egypt.

Maidman correctly argues that the Nuzi texts deserve a volume in the series for several reasons. The nearly 7,000 tablets cover a chronological period of approximately 150 years within the Late Bronze Age and come from a variety of more than three dozen archaeologically attested archival contexts, both public and private. They are unique in the ancient world in detailing the social, economic, and political life of one particular urban community (p. 5). In addition, the Nuzi documents stand as important historical sources for the complex relationships between the Late Bronze Age states of Arraph a and Assyria (p. 1). Finally, despite its isolation and laconic contacts with more well- known cities and countries of the ancient Near East, the tablets do demonstrate that Nuzi not only participated in, but also contributed to the larger contextual socio-legal and political milieu of Mesopotamian society (p. 12). Therefore, the Nuzi tablets are not irrelevant or inconsequential resources for the historian of the ancient Near East. Rather, they are significant writings from the ancient world.

The primary aim for this particular volume is twofold. First, Maidman intended the work to function as a chrestomathy—“a sampler of different text genres found in the Nuzi corpus” (p. 5). However, Maidman did not organize the chrestomathy according to text type or find spot. Instead, his second aim was to present the texts as “evidentiary material” in five case studies. Consequently, the case studies determined the selection of the ninety-six Nuzi texts included in this volume. Understandably, then, some genres are not included here, but in general, the overall taxonomy of Nuzi text types is broadly represented (see the catalog of genres on p. 296).

Since each chapter ...

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