This book is a revision of my Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations. I owe a great debt of gratitude to my committee and colleagues at the University of Toronto, particularly my supervisor, Sarianna Metso. It was her interest in the genre of Qumran law that initially sparked my curiosity, which, in turn, led me to ask the question of what it means for law to be law in the first place, and then to ask that question for biblical and Mesopotamian law collections. Fortunately, she gave me great freedom to explore this question wherever it led me—deep into the realm of legal theory as it turns out. I thank her for her patience, encouragement, and guidance throughout this journey. I also thank the other members of my committee. Judith Newman’s theoretical and philological approach to early Jewish texts has been inspiring for my own work. I thank Paul-Alain Beaulieu, who introduced me to Akkadian and the Code of Hammurabi. His philological rigor and vast knowledge of Akkadian sources has been an invaluable resource for me.

Thanks are also due to Ernest Weinrib, Aharon Barak, and David Dyzenhaus from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, who graciously allowed me into their courses, and encouraged me as I began connecting insights from legal theory to ancient legal texts. They helped guide me through the murky waters of legal theory and affirmed my ideas early on. I also owe an especially significant debt to Bernard Levinson for his thorough, thoughtful, and challenging appraisal of my dissertation. This book is far better off because of his critique, and I am certain that it would not have been accepted so quickly for publication without his extensive and judicious feedback.

I am also grateful to my colleagues at the University of Toronto, particularly John Screnock, Nathalie LaCoste, Carmen Palmer, Shawn Flynn, Mark Graham, Ryan Stoner, and Demetrios Alibertis. While their feedback and encouragement have been invaluable, I am most appreciative for the supportive friendships that were forged as we navigated our way through grad school. Much thanks are also due to the various sources of funding that made my graduate career financially possible: the University of Toronto Fellowship; the Centre for Jewish Studies; Ontario Graduate Scholarships; and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I am also thankful to the editors of JSJSup, Karina Hogan, René Bloch and the peer reviewers, for their encouraging and thoughtful comments.

I owe the greatest debt of gratitude to my family for all their support, particularly my sister Carlye and mother Louise, who spent many hours editing the whole work. To my in-laws, Ken and Scarlet Rampersad, I am very grateful for their unwavering love and support, despite their (understandable) bewilderment at my career choice. To my children, Joshua and Julia, I thank you for putting up with a Dad whose mind was often in the clouds. You always brought me back to reality and reminded me that there are things that are far more important than ancient legal thought, and for that I am forever grateful. Most of all, I thank my wife, Sherryl, who has always supported me. She has put up with being the household bread-winner for far longer than she ever would have imagined when she agreed to marry me. Yet she has been nothing but a source of constant encouragement and support. This book is dedicated to her.

Jonathan Vroom

Toronto, Ontario

February 2018