Oct 29, 2017

Law as Academic Treatises?

I am making my way through Roy Gane’s recent volume on Old Testament law. Gane and others suggest that the Old Testament laws were not normative legislation, at least in the technical sense. ANE law codes might be more accurately identified as academic treatises. He writes,
It appears that the early law collections, such as that of Hammurabi, were academic treatises that gathered, edited, organized, and supplemented existing legal customs and precedents. That they did not function as normative legislation is shown by the fact that extant Mesopotamian court records and contracts, of which there are thousands, do not explicitly refer to the Laws of Hammurabi or any other written law collection, so these collections were not used to directly govern day-to-day legal practice.
Roy E. Gane, Old Testament Law for Christians: Original Context and Enduring Application (Grand Rapids: Baker, 201), 32.

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