Translating Empire

In Translating Empire: Tell Fekheriyeh, Deuteronomy, and the Assyrian Treaty Tradition (Mohr Siebeck, 2019), Jeremy Hutton and I offer a data-driven approach to translation practices in the Iron Age.

We build on and reinforce the conclusions I drew in Israel and the Assyrians about Deuteronomy and the Akkadian treaty tradition, deploying Hutton’s “optimal translation” theory to analyze the Akkadian-Aramaic bilingual inscription from Tell Fekheriyeh as an instance of Akkadian-to-Northwest Semitic translation in the Iron Age. We argue that the Tell Fekheriyeh Inscription, in both its A and B texts, exhibits a largely isomorphic style of translation, only occasionally using dynamic replacement sets.

We then apply these findings to other proposed instances of Iron Age translation from Akkadian to dialects of Northwest Semitic, including the relationship between Deuteronomy and the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon and the relationship between the treaty of Aššur-nerari V with Matiʾilu and the Sefire treaties. We argue that the lexical and syntactic changes in these cases diverge so significantly from the model established by Tell Fekheriyeh as to exclude the possibility that they constitute translational relationships.

The book started as a co-authored article in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel and grew from there. For more on the process, see here.