From the Mari Archives: An Anthology of Old Babylonian Letters. By jack M. sasson. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2015. Pp. xx + 454. $59.50.
Jack M. Sasson has researched and written on the sources from the Old Babylonian period--especially those from the ancient city of Mari--for nearly fifty years. From the Mari Archives: An Anthology of Old Babylonian Letters is a product of his career-long efforts in this field, and it does not disappoint. This volume showcases the author's intimate knowledge of and studied reflections on Old Babylonian sources and will be immensely useful for those who are interested in the social, cultural, and religious histories of ancient Syro-Mesopotamia as well as for those working in comparative studies that engage the Hebrew Bible. In sum, the quality of the translations as well as the care taken in selecting and organizing the texts will make it an invaluable resource for students and scholars.
The opening chapter begins with a user-friendly introduction that overviews primary sources and provides a synopsis of secondary sources for those uninitiated in Mari and Old Babylonian studies. Then this chapter concludes by briefly raising potential prospects and pitfalls for comparison of the Old Babylonian world with that of the Hebrew Bible. For those unfamiliar with Sasson's work, the page and a half of remarks on comparative study of "Mari and the Bible" may seem somewhat unexpected or out of place. Yet throughout his career, he has provocatively and compellingly integrated his research on "Mari and the Bible," and the volume under review continues this practice.
Lively translations of sources from the Old Babylonian period are accompanied by thoughtful notes that suggest connections with the Hebrew Bible. For example, in his notes, Sasson remarks on similarities between Akkadian and Hebrew turns-of-phrase (e.g., p. 30 n. 25, p. 229 n. 34), comparisons between socio-political terminology (e.g., p. 137 n. 41), considerations of related cultural practices (e.g., p. 339 n. 134), and provocative off-hand impressions (e.g., p. 320 n. 78). Ultimately there are many significant reflections on "Mari and the Bible" throughout the book that demonstrate the author's extensive knowledge of both the Old Babylonian sources and the Hebrew Bible.
Following the introduction, five main chapters primarily consist of translations of Old Babylonian texts accompanied by succinct descriptions of the sources and diverse notes on them. As the...