Law code as story line: Deuteronomy 24: 16-25: 10 and LH 1-5 as narrative templates in biblical and Mesopotamian tradition

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Abstract

The article explores an unusual literary phenomenon in both biblical and Mesopotamian traditions: a consecutive order of clauses in a law collection serves to structure the plot of a later, narrative composition. The plot of Ruth follows the list of commandments in Deut 24:16-25:10, while a portion of the Neo-Babylonian work, "Nebuchadnezzar King of Justice" follows the order of LH 1-5. Strikingly, these narrative compositions invoke the venerated law codes of their respective traditions, and yet, at the same time, the practice of those very same laws invoked, is seen to be at variance with the prescriptions of the earlier codes. The implications of the phenomenon for understanding processes of legal revision in the ancient Near East are explored.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalJournal of Northwest Semitic Languages
Volume39
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

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