Inventing God's Law How the Covenant Code of the Bible Used and Revised the Laws of Hammurabi

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-09-03
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Most scholars believe that the numerous similarities between the Covenant Code (Exodus 20:23-23:19) and Mesopotamian law collections, especially the Laws of Hammurabi, which date to around 1750 BCE, are due to oral tradition that extended from the second to the first millennium. This book offers a fundamentally new understanding of the Covenant Code, arguing that it depends directly and primarily upon the Laws of Hammurabi and that the use of this source text occurred during the Neo-Assyrian period, sometime between 740-640 BCE, when Mesopotamia exerted strong and continuous political and cultural influence over the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and a time when the Laws of Hammurabi were actively copied in Mesopotamia as a literary-canonical text. The study offers significant new evidence demonstrating that a model of literary dependence is the only viable explanation for the work. It further examines the compositional logic used in transforming the source text to produce the Covenant Code, thus providing a commentary to the biblical composition from the new theoretical perspective. This analysis shows that the Covenant Code is primarily a creative academic work rather than a repository of laws practiced by Israelites or Judeans over the course of their history. The Covenant Code, too, is an ideological work, which transformed a paradigmatic and prestigious legal text of Israel's and Judah's imperial overlords into a statement symbolically countering foreign hegemony. The study goes further to study the relationship of the Covenant Code to the narrative of the book of Exodus and explores how this may relate to the development of the Pentateuch as a whole.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations and Special Terminologyp. xiii
Introduction: The Basic Thesis and Backgroundp. 3
Primary Evidence for Dependence: Sequential Correspondences and Datep. 29
The Casuistic Lawsp. 31
The Apodictic Lawsp. 51
Opportunity and Date for the Use of HammurabiĘs and Other Cuneiform Lawsp. 91
The Compositional Logic of the Covenant Codep. 121
Debt-Slavery and the Seduction of a Maiden (Exodus 21:2-11; 22:15-16)p. 123
Homicide, Injury, Miscarriage, and Talion (Exodus 21:12-14,18-27)p. 154
Child Rebellion, Kidnapping, Sorcery, Bestiality, and Illicit Sacrifice (Exodus 21:15-17; 22:17-19)p. 192
The Goring Ox and Negligence (Exodus 21:28-36)p. 205
Animal Theft, Crop Destruction, Deposit, and Burglary (Exodus 21:37-22:8)p. 230
Animal Injury, Death, and Rental (Exodus 22:9-14)p. 265
The Themes and Ideology of the Apodictic Laws (Exodus 20:23-26; 21:1; 22:20-23:19)p. 286
Redactional Growth in the Apodictic Laws and the Covenant Code's Relationship to the Exodus Narrativep. 322
Conclusionsp. 346
Notesp. 365
Bibliographyp. 511
Author Indexp. 553
Subject Indexp. 561
Text References Indexp. 569
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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