Long recognized as a brilliant cross-cultural study, Yochanan Muffs’ work analyzes the legal formulary of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine, at the first cataract of the Nile, where a Persian garrison comprised of Jewish soldiers and their families lived throughout most of the 5th century B.C.E. These documents are of exceptional importance for the study of ancient Near Eastern law, and Muffs has investigated their formative background through extensive references to cuneiform law, by a method he calls “the Assyriological approach”. Virtually every aspect of law-sale of land, marriage and family law, loans and credit, the taking of oaths, and the granting of bequests is studied in great depth and with unusual clarity. Muffs’ work has enjoyed renewed interest in the light of more recent discoveries of Aramaic legal documents from later periods, as in the Judean Desert.
Yochanan Muffs, Ph.D. (1963) in Oriental Studies, University of Pennsylvania is Emeritus, Seminary Professor of Bible, Jewish Theological Seminary. His publications include
Love and Joy: Law, Language and Religion in Ancient Israel (1992).
Baruch A. Levine, Ph.D. (1962) in Mediterranean Studies, Brandeis University is Skirball Professor, Emeritus of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, New York University. His recent publications include
Anchor Bible Commentary, Numbers, 2 vols. (1990, 2000) and
The Documents from the Bar Kochba Period in the Cave of Letters (with Ada Yardeni), 2002.
Scholars in Bible, Semitic Languages (especially Aramaic), History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, Ancient Egypt in Achaemenid times.