On Reading Akkadian Prayers and Actually Reading Texts

John Hobbins who reads Ancient Hebrew Poetry along with a lot of other things has posted his preliminary thoughts on the forthcoming Reading Akkadian Prayers and Hymns volume to which Charles the Awilum Halton and I contributed. As John says,

Scholars are known to succumb to a grave and debilitating disease: that of spending all their days reading each other rather than the texts and other artifacts that are supposed to be the objects of their research.

Please give John’s post a read. John explains why actually reading texts and reading them in their original languages is a good thing. After that drop by Charles’s place and see what he has to say about what John has to say.
Hopefully, Reading Akkadian Prayers and Hymns, SBL-ANEM 3, will be available soon (again).

5 thoughts on “On Reading Akkadian Prayers and Actually Reading Texts”

  1. This is much like the young Christian girl I once talked to who honestly was in disbelief by the possibility that meaning could be lost in translation. Ugh. If only bilingualism was mandatory in Canadian schools…
    I can see already in the first paragraph that Hobbins is wonderfully conscious and astute. I think I need to add him to my blogroll. What he says here can be extended to general academia. Etruscanists drive me bonkers for exactly the same reasons: They so often forget to LOOK AT THE INSCRIPTIONS!!! Sorry, I yelled. But I’m just so frustrated with shallow scholars who are only there to put on an egotistical show and brag about their degrees and published work instead of discussing seriously important topics that they’re (supposedly) informed on.
    Hobbin’s quote here is gold: “In the blessed assurance that someone else knows more about a particular text than she does, a specialist will often say little or nothing about a text that has not been said before.” Amen.
    Here’s another poignant one: “Vast corpora of texts are out of reach of all but a few specialists.” Egad, YES! What’s with this pathetic intellectual monopoly? I’m personally sick of coming to one website after another trying to SELL me academic articles that are ironically often free on another website. I want to rebel and tell authors to screw their sacrosanct copyright.

  2. Glen, you might find the following interesting.
    This is a lecture by copyright expert (and founder of Creative Commons) Lawrence Lessig, his keynote address for Educause (2009/Nov).
    In this, he first outlines copyright law and some problems with it, but then he gets specific about how it was not designed for science, nor education. He then goes on to explain what can be done about it.
    It is a well done address; it is not dry, or boring, but funny and entertaining (if you are a little on the geeky side, you might note even more humour).
    Getting Our Values Around Copyright Right
    (note, this version of the video uses Silverlight to play — it is the same browser plugin as used by NetFlix — I wasn’t able to find the plain old original version I had seen)

  3. I was recently appalled at the cost of following references in scholarly works, or even books written for the layman. Purchasing various articles at JSTOR to read merely two pages worth of references cost, it seemed, around $200 dollars.
    I finally broke down and subscribed to JNES and their online component. While this has given be some very good information, and some good reading to do – it still doesn’t cover even a small degree of the references in most books, journal articles….
    I wish so badly that the cost of researching, or even staying current, wasn’t so high.

  4. Matt,
    You may know that I am an “unaffiliated” student of the ancient world. So I share your pain about the difficulties of doing meaningful research. However, I have found a couple of wonderful librarians at nearby colleges and universities who are willing to help me get hold of even some quite obscure stuff at no charge. I have access to JSTOR at the library of a local university. I need to go to the library to get that access and that is sometimes a bit of a pain but it sure is better than paying the exorbitant cost of purchasing papers one at a time.

  5. Busi, downloading Silverlight is completely unnecessary. It’s more easily viewed on blip.tv.
    I’ve already seen this and am also impressed with his clever talk. He gives a lot of things to ponder and it’s clear that things have to change. How though?… Well that’s a tough question. It seems a large part of the problem is that the scarcity of money plagues the wealth of information. Information wants to be free and yet money makes the world go round.

Comments are closed.