The Bible's Break with Ancient Political Thought to Promote Equality - 'It Ain’t Necessarily So'
The Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 61, No. 2, pp. 685-694, 2010
10 Pages Posted: 11 May 2011 Last revised: 20 May 2011
Date Written: 2010
Joshua Berman's volume, Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought, attempts to situate the Pentateuch in the history of Western political thought more broadly. The point is to get the Bible out from under the hegemony of the narrower analytical and historical questions that we in the guild of biblical scholarship normally ask: questions of dating, of the compositional history of the text, and of its relation to other biblical sources.
This review article points out some of the difficulties entailed in Berman's claim that the Pentateuch provides a model of social equality and social inclusion. In addition, some of the inconsistencies in the author's use of Near Eastern sources are pointed out, as are difficulties of the approach to dating biblical sources.
Keywords: Law, Intellectual History, Hermeneutics, Hebrew Bible, Constitutional Theory, Literary Approaches to Biblical Studies, Biblical Law, Deuteronomy, Pentateuchal Theory, Ancient Legal Systems, Biblical Studies, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Ancient social & political philosophy
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