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God, Justice, and SocietyAspects of Law and Legality in the Bible$
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Jonathan Burnside

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199759217

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759217.001.0001

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The Character of Biblical Law

The Character of Biblical Law

(p.1) 1 The Character of Biblical Law
God, Justice, and Society

Jonathan Burnside

Oxford University Press

Making sense of biblical law from the distance of the 21st century means being aware of the “presupposition pool” of biblical Israel, especially in relation to law and its social practice. It shows how biblical law is similar to, and different from, ancient Near Eastern law, whilst also being different from modern law. This means we should be careful not to project a “semantic” reading onto biblical law when a “narrative” reading is more appropriate. The chapter considers how biblical law is integrated into the wider story of God's purposes for Israel and her vocation. It also shows how biblical law is characterized by a strongly didactic function and by sophisticated literary presentation, whilst also being relational, dynamic and an expression of wisdom.

Keywords:   ancient Near Eastern law, biblical law, didactic function, Israel, narrative, relational, vocation, wisdom

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