How Mesopotamian Scribes Learned to Write Legal Documents: A Study of the Sumerian Model Contracts in the Babylonian Collection at Yale University

How Mesopotamian Scribes Learned to Write Legal Documents: A Study of the Sumerian Model Contracts in the Babylonian Collection at Yale University

By: Walter R. Bodine (author)Hardback

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This is a remarkable and important work that provides insight into social and economic activities provided to us in the cuneiform records of ancient periods revealing how these activities were negotiated and regulated by laws and contracts, through records of the Sumerian model contracts from the Mesopotamian scribal school curriculum. It is an essential reference work for any student of ancient Mesopotamian history and comparative law. In the Mesopotamian school, scribal students were prepared to assume many responsibilities. Among them was the writing of functional contracts (i.e., those used in actual legal proceedings) and other legal documents. A large number of these functional documents have been preserved and published. Student scribes learned to write them by preparing practice examples. These include model contracts, model court cases, model letters, and models of public announcements. That phase of scribal training represents the closest Mesopotamia ever came to developing a law school. An introduction to this work overviews the book and discusses the effort made in it to discover the provenience and period of composition of the documents, the importance of personal names and the need of attention to paleography for this investigation, and the use, and the use of functional contracts in the process of restoring lost and obscure readings. A survey of past study discusses work done, explains the usage of terms, relates the model contracts to other school documents, and locates them at the intermediate level of Mesopotamian scribal education. The texts are set forth in transliteration and a literal translation, which are arranged side by side in order to make clear the author's understanding of the documents.

About Author

Dr. Walter R. Bodine received his Ph.D. with majors in Biblical Hebrew and Hebrew Bible Studies from Harvard University. He taught New Testament Greek at Crichton College; has served as an Associate Professor of Semitics and Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, worked as a Research Affiliate in the Babylonian Collection at Yale University and currently serves as Pastor Emeritus, International Church at Yale.


Foreword by William W. Hallo; Preface/Acknowledgments/Abbreviations; Chapter 1: Introduction; Chapter 2: Past Study; Chapter 3: Texts; YBC 263/YBC 11121/NBC 7800/NBC 8630/YBC 12074/NBC 8623; Chapter 4: Commentary; Loan: YBC 263; Model Contracts: YBC 11121; Model Contracts and Loss of a Seal: NBC 7800; Field Maintenance: NBC 8630; Loss of a Seal: YBC 12074; Exchange / Sale: NBC 8623; Chapter 5: Genre; And More.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780773435377
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 281
  • ID: 9780773435377
  • ISBN10: 0773435379

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