Douglas Knight’s study has as its object the social world of ancient Israel rather than the literary text of the Bible. Drawing on anthropological and sociological studies of law in other cultures, he argues that laws do not emerge from legislative action so much as from a gradual process rooted in custom. The study is divided into two parts. The first four chapters develop the method and approach. The remaining three chapters outline what he takes to be the three primary legal systems in ancient Israel – village law, urban and national law, and cultic law. Chapter 1 outlines the standard view of the development of the main collections of law in the Hebrew Bible – the Covenant Code, the Deuteronomic Code, the Holiness Code, the Priestly Code, and the Decalogue. Knight regards the standard view, which assigns these collections to different periods beginning with the early monarchy, with skepticism. Who would have written and read these codes in the pre-exilic period? And why should they have been composed in writing in the first place? Knight suggests that these laws were only collected in the Persian period in response to a demand similar to that of Darius I
Biblical Interpretation – Brill
Published: Feb 18, 2014
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