Citing Text Collections 2: ANET

Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ANET), edited by James B. Pritchard, has long been a standard resource for researchers and readers who need quick access to reliable translations of ancient Near Eastern texts. Although ANET has been supplanted to some degree by more recent and extensive translation collections, one still encounters it frequently enough that it warrants discussion here.

ANET contains in a single volume translations of roughly 360 texts of various types organized into ten categories: (1) Myths, Epics, and Legends; (2) Legal Texts; (3) Historical Texts; (4) Rituals, Incantations, and Descriptions of Festivals; (5) Hymns and Prayers; (6) Didactic and Wisdom Literature; (7) Lamentations; (8) Secular Songs and Poems; (9) Letters; and (10) Miscellaneous Texts.

Referencing ANET is relatively simple, although different uses of the work require different types of citations, as the following guidelines and footnote examples demonstrate.

1. A simple reference to a text within ANET may include only the abbreviation and the page number.

13. For an ancient Near Eastern account similar to Moses’s birth story, see ANET, 119.

Because ANET is a single-volume work, a comma should be placed between the abbreviation and the page number; by contrast, abbreviations for multivolume reference works are not followed by a comma (e.g., COS, which will be discussed in a future post).

2. If identifying the title of the ancient work is important, enclose the title as given in ANET within quotation marks.

13. For an ancient Near Eastern account similar to Moses’s birth story, see “The Legend of Sargon” in ANET, 119.

3. When quoting from ANET, it is good practice to identify both the title of the work and the name of the translator (see also SBLHS §

13. Many scholars have noted similarities between Moses’s birth story and the statement of Sargon: “she [Sargon’s mother] set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid” (“The Legend of Sargon,” trans. E. A. Speiser, ANET, 119).

This last example provides opportunity to offer two additional comments about ANET: (1) the translator’s name is listed not with this text but at the head of the broader section and in the table of contents; look in one of those two places to discover who translated a text; (2) the table of contents intersperses the supplemental texts of the third edition among the original texts of the first edition. For example, the Sargon text appears in the following sequence:

Etana (E. A. Speiser)


Etana—Additions (A. K. Grayson)


The Legend of Sargon (E. A. Speiser)


A Babylonian Theogony (A. K. Grayson)


Thus, to find all the texts of a particular genre, see the table of contents; merely browsing through the section itself may cause you to miss texts added in the third edition’s supplement.

4. Many ANET texts are short and can be referenced by page only. However, in some cases readers will be better served by a more precise reference to a specific part of the text, as in the following examples.

21. See ANET, 508, col. i, lines 30′–38′.

37. See further Sargon II’s annalistic record of the taking of Samaria (ANET, 284–85, lines 23–26).

42. “Lugal[marda] stood aside from his city (Marda), / Ninzuanna forsook her beloved dwelling, / ‘Oh her destroyed city, destroyed house,’ bitterly she wept” (“Lamentation over the Destruction of Sumer and Ur,” trans. S. N. Kramer, ANET, 614, lines 136–138).

5. Referencing ANET by abbreviation assumes, of course, that the work is properly listed in an abbreviations list:


Pritchard, James B., ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. 3rd ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969.

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