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Semeia 45: Thinking Biblical Law
Dale Patrick, editor
Not yet published
Publication Date
April 2005


“Why would anyone want to study biblical law? That is a good question. Law is certainly not a burning issue to the college students who enroll in Bible courses. The textbooks used in such courses implicitly acknowledge as much by devoting only a very small percentage of the text to the subject. I doubt that interest among Christian seminarians is much greater, judging from the course offerings of seminaries. Even the community of biblical scholars finds law to be less interesting than other subjects—narrative, prophecy, psalms, even wisdom. … The solution of the textbooks, and probably most courses, is to offer a relatively brief treatment of the Ten Commandments, historical observations about the publication of the lawbooks, and a few generalizations about values. None dig into the legal texts for their theology, anthropology, social philosophy, and ethics. The thesis of this volume is that we should be studying biblical legal texts precisely for these subjects. It is this sort of study which is meant by humanities” (introduction).


— Dale Patrick

The Problem of Ancient Israel’s Prescriptive Legal Traditions
— Rolf P. Knierim

Studying Biblical Law as a Humanities
— Dale Patrick

Logic and Israelite Law
— Martin J. Buss

“Die He Shall Surely Die”: The Structure of Homicide in Biblical Law
— Peter Haas

Law and Philosophy: The Case of Sex in the Bible
— Tikva Frymer-Kensky

Rationale for Cultic Law: The Case of Impurity
— Jacob Milgrom