THE NARRATIVE QUANDARY: CASES OF LAW IN LITERATURE

in Vetus Testamentum
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Abstract

Narrative texts that address legal matters in the Hebrew Bible must be approached with caution. An author has freedom to create and shape characters and events, and the law that is touched upon in such narratives is subject to the needs of narrative art. Can such texts be used to reconstruct legal history? I will examine three approaches to law in literature, and I will argue that the literary texts in the Bible are critical to the study of biblical law because they reflect essentials of legal practice omitted from legal texts. They exhibit what is perceived to be the inadequacies of a legal system and what type of problems arose in putting the law in practice. They address issues of justice and governance that are omitted in legal tetxs.

Vetus Testamentum

A Quarterly Published by the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament

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