Making a Case: The Practical Roots of Biblical Law
September 21, 2021
2018 Wall Scholar, Sara Milstein’s new book, Making a Case: The Practical Roots of Biblical Law is out now. The book challenges the long-held notion that Israelite and Judahite scribes either made use of “old” law collections or set out to produce law collections in the Near Eastern sense of the genre. Instead, what we call “biblical law” is closer in form and function to another, oft-neglected Mesopotamian genre: legal-pedagogical texts.
During their education, Mesopotamian scribes studied a variety of legal-oriented school texts, including sample contracts, fictional cases, short sequences of laws, and legal phrasebooks. When biblical law is viewed in the context of these legal-pedagogical texts from Mesopotamia, its practical roots in a set of comparable legal exercises begin to emerge.
The book features:
- Provides a comprehensive overview of Mesopotamian legal-pedagogical texts
- Demonstrates that Deuteronomy 19-25 and Exodus 21-22 are rooted in legal-pedagogical exercises, not older law collections
- Proposes that Israel/Judah did not produce law collections in the Near Eastern sense of the genre
Making A Case: The Practical Roots of Biblical Law is available online through Oxford University Press.
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