REL 301 Paper Topics

Assignment: For each paper, find another ancient Near Eastern text older than the 4th century BCE that deals in some way with one of the main topics of this course (see lists in the next paragraph). This must be a text not assigned on the class syllabus. You must then compare this text with those assigned readings on the same topic (both from the anthologies and from web readings) to determine how including this text changes your evaluation of the interaction of religion with ancient culture that was discussed in class. Try to explain the differences you discover. Each new text you introduce must be placed in its proper historical and geographic context. Your conclusions about the interaction between religion and culture must be framed historically by reference to the class discussion and the discussion in Holland, Gods, about ancient history and religion. Write a research paper of at least 1,500 words on the basis of this comparison.


·         For the First Paper (due February 12th at 3:30 pm), the topics that the texts must address will involve the history and politics, and/or religious reflections of them, of Mesopotamia, Egypt or Syria-Palestine.

·         For the Second Paper (due March 7th at 3:30 pm), the topics that the texts must address will involve one of the following areas and/or religious reflections of them: humanity, nature and creation, justice, prophets or economic relationships and transactions.

·         For the Third Paper (due April 9th at 3:30 pm), the topics that the texts must address will involve one of the following areas: education and wisdom, gender and sex, goddesses, magic, prayer, or ritual.

·         For the Fourth Paper (due May 5th at 5:00 pm), the topics that the texts must address will involve one of the following areas: architecture, art, death and afterlife.

General Instructions: Papers must be properly documented using either in-text references in parentheses or footnotes, and must include a bibliography citing all works consulted. You should minimize your use of quotations, but ALL quotations that you decide to use must appear inside quotation marks or be block indented and be followed by citation of the source. ALL ideas gathered from other sources and presented in your own words (i.e. "paraphrased") must also cite their sources. The papers must be typed and carefully proof-read for spelling and grammatical errors.

Papers must be turned in by the beginning of class (3:30 pm) on the day due. They may be turned in on paper in class, or by e-mail to Emma Brodeur (embrodeu at After that, late papers will be accepted but the grade will be reduced by one step (e.g. B to B-). Papers 1, 2, and 3 may be revised and resubmitted within one week to be considered for improving the grade up to two steps (e.g. B- to B+). The option to revise and resubmit is not available for paper 4.

Anthologies of Ancient Texts
on reserve in Bird library:

  • Hallo, W. W. and K. L. Younger, Jr., eds. The Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions, Monumental Inscriptions, and Archival Documents from the Biblical World. 3 vols. Leiden: Brill, 1997, 2000, 2002.
  • Foster, Benjamin R. Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature. 2 vols. Bethesda, MD: CDL Press, 1993.
  • Jacobsen, Thorkild. The Harps that once-- : Sumerian poetry in translation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.
  • Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature. 3 vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973, 1976, 1980.
  • Pritchard, James B. Ancient Near Eastern texts relating to the Old Testament. 3d ed. with supplement. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969.
  • Beckman, Gary. Hittite Diplomatic Texts. Atlanta: Scholars, 1996.


available for check out from Bird Library or online as e-books:

·         Strudwick, Nigel. Texts from the pyramid age. SBL, 2005.

·         Murnane, William J. Texts from the Amarna period in Egypt. Scholars Press, 1995.

·         Roth, Martha. Law collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. SBL, 1997.

·         Hoffner, Harry A. Hittite Myths. Scholars Press, 1998.

·         Singer, Itamar. Hittite Prayers. SBL, 2002.

·         Nissinen, Martti. Prophets and prophecy in the ancient Near East. SBL, 2003.

·         Hoffner, Harry A. Letters from the Hittite Kingdom. SBL, 2009.

·         Beckman, Gary M.. Hittite diplomatic texts. Scholars Press, 1996.

·         Pardee, Dennis. Ritual and cult at Ugarit. SBL, 2002.

·         Lindenberger, James M.. Ancient Aramaic and Hebrew letters. Scholars Press, 1994.

·         Glassner, Jean-Jacques. Mesopotamian chronicles. SBL, 2004.

·         Allen, James P.. The ancient Egyptian pyramid texts. SBL, 2005.

·         Michalowski, Piotr. Letters from early Mesopotamia. Scholars Press, 1993.

·         Vanstiphout, H. L. J. Epics of Sumerian kings: the matter of Aratta. SBL, 2003.