The Casuistic Priestly Law in Ancient Mediterranean Context: The History of the Genre and its Sitz im Leben

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Abstract

While numerous scholars have compared the Priestly regulations in the Pentateuch to ancient Near Eastern "ritual texts", the Priestly legal material more generally corresponds in form and style to ancient Near Eastern casuistic law collections than to descriptive or prescriptive "ritual texts". At the same time, ancient Near Eastern law collections do not contain any ritual or religious ordinances, relating instead primarily to civil and financial affairs or social law and order. This paper examines the formal, substantive, and generic affinities between the Priestly laws and the casuistic Greek Sacred Laws inscribed on stone and other materials throughout the eastern Mediterranean basin from the sixth century BCE onwards. Analysis of related Northwest-Semitic and Punic texts, as well as potential precedents from the Hittite world, further contributes to our understanding of the Sitz im Leben of the casuistic Priestly law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-40
Number of pages17
JournalHarvard Theological Review
Volume111
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018

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