Revelation and Idolatry: Holy Law and Holy Terror

17 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2009

Date Written: January 31, 2009


The Book of Exodus describes the identity of justice and the law. Because elsewhere the gap between justice and the law is so wide -- in Christian theology when it sees the Pharisaic law as inhibiting the realization of justice; in philosophy where from Plato on, law is formal while is justice substantive; in political theory, which includes those who endorse "procedural justice" when they abandon substantive justice -- this radical biblical vision, wherein the law is justice is surely unique. This is not an understanding of the law as a series of prescriptions, the "yoke of the law" but the minimal requirement of respect for another's life and responsibility for those lacking protection: the widow, orphan, and poor. Emmanuel Levinas has noted the revolutional aspect of this revelation of justice, and defined the heirs of Abraham as those who have duties toward the other.

Keywords: law, justice, idolatry, responsibility, Bible, Exodus, Levinas

JEL Classification: K49

Suggested Citation

Schwartz, Regina, Revelation and Idolatry: Holy Law and Holy Terror (January 31, 2009). Genre XL, Spring 2007 , Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 09-04, Available at SSRN:

Regina Schwartz (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

Dept of English
215 University Hall
Evanston, IL 60202
United States

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