Introduction to Akkadian offers a twelve-lesson course in the essentials of Akkadian grammar. The lessons feature concise explanations of Akkadian grammar, as well as exercises in reading, transliteration and translation. These introduce the student to common vocabulary and basic cuneiform signs. In addition, Introduction includes appendices dealing with Akkadian phonetics and metrology, indices, and a paradigm of the strong verb.
There are many reasons why the study of Akkadian would prove worthwhile. Akkadian is one of the great cultural languages of world history. For a period of some 2500 years it was the vehicle of a dominant culture in the Ancient Near East, and abundant written records were written in it: religious, historical, literary, and grammatical.
The language is a member of the Semitic language family, one of its earliest and, overwhelmingly, its best attested ancient member. As such, it is similar not only to ancient Hebrew, but also Ugartic. Therefore, a familiarity with Akkadian would be helpful if, during your exegesis of a Hebrew text, a hapax legomenon (a word appearing only once in a corpus or document) turns out to be translatable via Akkadian.
Moreover, studying the many works composed in Akkadian help contextualize the narratives of the Israelites into the greater context of Ancient Near Eastern culture. Many of these ancient texts share similarities with stories and documents in the Hebraic tradition. These include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enûma Elish, and the Code of Hammurabi.
Richard Caplice, S.J. (b.1931) is the author of Introduction to Akkadian published by Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico and The Akkadian Namburbi Texts: An Introduction published by Undena Publications.