[Series: What I Read in Seminary #0] Basics of Ancient Ugaritic: A Concise Grammar, Workbook, and Lexicon

About the Series

The following is the first post of a series I’m calling, “What I Read in Seminary”. I have had to read pages upon pages of theological material; so much that it feels like I forget a fair amount of what I read. While I do maintain a general synopsis of a book, I want to better internalize and remember what I am chewing and digesting as I read. This series seeks to remedy this by providing brief reviews of the books I read.



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After studying biblical Hebrew and Aramaic, my appetite for the Ancient Near East (ANE) has only be whetted. Come springtime, a colleague and me will have the opportunity to learn Ugaritic while studying beneath a leading ANE professor. To prepare us for our studies, he has required that we read the following textbook, Basics of Ancient Ugaritic: A Concise Grammar, Workbook, and Lexicon, by Michael Williams. His opinion was that previous Ugaritic introductory grammars were not as concise, did not utilize as much data, and were more expensive. Before reading the language, I looked forward to digging into cuneiform writing.

After reading the textbook, I can certainly say the textbook has made the material accessible. It’s material is predicated on knowing biblical Hebrew but is easy to follow along with besides this. Williams also writes that the book “differs from the standard grammars” by its inclusion of “humor”.[1]

I appreciated the book’s material, especially the background information available in Lesson 1. The cuneiform alphabet is given in Lesson 2, but oddly, it does not make an appearance throughout the rest of the book. The remainder utilizes transliteration rather than the cuneiform text. This was my sole disappointment in the textbook.

Another feature I appreciated were the extensive bibliographies included at the end of each chapter for further study in the language.

I am looking forward to the additional reading the professor is preparing for us, and I look forward translating the Ugaritic texts we have available. Most of all I look forward to how these texts will shine a light on the obscurities of the Canaanites of the Old Testament; I look forward to being able to preach the Old Testament better through these studies!


  1. Michael Williams, Basics of Ancient Ugaritic: A Concise Grammar, Workbook, and Lexicon (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2012), 10. Williams’s subheading reads, ‘Taking the “Ugh” Out of Ugaritic’. ↩︎