Nergal and Ereskigal. By SIMONETTA PONCHIA and MIKKO LUUKKO. State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts, vol. 8. Helsinki: THE NEO-ASSYRIAN TEXT CORPUS PROJECT, 2013. Pp. cviii + 82. $44 (paper). [Distributed by Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Ind.]
This new edition of Nergal and Ereskigal includes an introductory essay followed by the transliteration, translation, and notes on the Middle Babylonian version from Amarna, a list of symbols and abbreviations, and a select bibliography. Next come the composite computer-generated cuneiform text of the first-millennium copies (one from Huzirina/Sultantepe in NA script and the other from Uruk in LB script), composite transliteration and translation, commentary to the text edition, and a comparison between these two manuscripts. Finally, there is a list of logograms and their readings, glossary, index of divine names, and a sign list.
The focus of the book is on the first millennium, although the MB version is briefly discussed. The authors explain that even though the SAACT series is devoted mainly to the publication of texts from Assurbanipal's library, the inclusion of Nergal and Ereskigal is based on the possibility that the famous library at Nineveh had housed copies of this composition that went missing. The decision is most appropriate and the book is welcome.
The introduction contains a table showing the differences and similarities in the plots of the Amarna and the first millennium versions, and discusses topics pertaining to the place of Nergal and Ereskigal in the literary, erudite, and ideological context of the NA period. There is a subheading on the motifs and narrative techniques, although the analysis concentrates on the divine protagonists. The authors present a wealth of information regarding the attestations of both gods in various Assyrian sources. The section about Nergal is naturally lengthier because he was recorded more extensively. The evidence is supported by rich bibliographic references. Regrettably, the select bibliography excludes titles that had been cited in the introduction and commentaries. Similarly, the addition of a list of previously published cuneiform copies, transliterations, and translations, such as has been included in other volumes of the series (e.g., SAACT 6, pp. xii-xiii), would have contributed to the thoroughness of the work.
The authors offer a number of new readings and interpretations, which are thoroughly explained in the commentary. In what follows...