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Law in Religious Communities in the Roman Period

The Debate over Torah and Nomos in Post-Biblical Judaism and Early Christianity

Peter Richardson

Publication Year: 1991

The role and function of law in religious communities in the Roman period—especially in Judaism—has been a key issue among scholars in recent years. This thought-provoking work is the first full-scale attempt to write a historical assessment of the scholarly debate concerning this question, focussing on two closely related religious communities, Judaism and Christianity. By juxtaposing the two religions, a clearer understanding of the developments with respect to torah and nomos in Judaism and early Christianity emerges.

This insightful work, placing emphasis on the major figures and both the scholarly lines of development and the appropriate lines for future research, will set the debate in a clearer and more and succinct manner. It will serve as a critical point of reference for further discussion.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Contents

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pp. v-vi

Contributors

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pp. vii-

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Introduction

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pp. ix-x

Law in post-Biblical Judaism and early Christianity continues to be a matter of prime importance. As the present volume shows, the history of scholarship on the place of torah and nomos, and of their relationship, is very rich. A seminar of the Canadian Society of Biblical...

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1. Law and Religion: Origins and Present State

The last 25 years have witnessed a fascination with law in religious and theological circles.1 This attention — described in parts of what follows but much larger than even this account would suggest—has not been much noticed, nor has its significance been carefully...

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Turning Points: Sanders and Neusner

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pp. 1-3

The work of E. P. Sanders represents a modern turning-point in the study of post-Biblical Judaism, and it is apparent in the analyses of the last dozen years that it has been so viewed by others. His...

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Studies in Religion and Law

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pp. 3-7

There have been other important and provocative studies of law in the last decade or so, following those of Neusner and Sanders. These have covered the whole range of subjects —though in very unequal quantities —in the post-Biblical period: intertestamental...

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Ethnology and Jurisprudence

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pp. 7-13

It was inevitable that historical studies of law should come to focus on this crucial period in the history of Western civilization. In so doing they were unconsciously following a line of enquiry —still...

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Conclusion

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pp. 13-14

All of the scholars just described are "functionalists" —that is, they are specially interested in how societies worked, in the mutual inter-relations of culture patterns. They also tended to find patterns...

Notes

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pp. 14-18

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2. Whence "The Torah" of Second Temple Judaism

To the independent-minded toddler, the proximity of a parent is both wanted and unwanted, a sensed but scarcely to be acknowledged need. Much Christian writing about law is marked by a similar ambivalence. That, centuries...

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Law in Early Judaism and Christianity: Introductory Comments

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pp. 19-22

To the independent-minded toddler, the proximity of a parent is both wanted and unwanted, a sensed but scarcely to be acknowledged need. Much Christian writing about law is marked by a similar ambivalence. That, centuries...

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Julius Wellhausen

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pp. 22-27

The name of Julius Wellhausen is usually associated with the so-called "Graf hypothesis." In a discussion of the history of Israelite sanctuaries, sacrifices, feasts, cultic officials and their dues, he...

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Sigmund Mowinckel and Albrecht Alt

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pp. 27-29

Before we consider in some detail the work of Martin Noth and Gerhard von Rad, mention must be made of two scholars who applied the form-critical approach of Hermann Gunkel to subjects...

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Martin Noth

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pp. 29-33

Martin Noth has provided a treatment of our subject both bold and provocative in his study The Laws in the Pentateuch.26 In the discussion which follows, we will supplement the picture which we find in...

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Gerhard von Rad

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pp. 33-36

In the treatment of law in Gerhard von Rad's Old Testament Theology, 30 we find again many of the features we have met in Mowinckel, Alt and Noth. Nonetheless, the discussion is carried further along several lines worth noting...

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Walther Zimmerli

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pp. 36-41

We conclude our summary of authors with Walther Zimmerli, a scholar standing very much in the tradition of those we have already considered. Four points in his discussion of Israel's understanding of law may be noted here...

Notes

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pp. 41-43

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3. Torah, Nomos and Law

In chapter two Torah has been used interchangeably with its tradition rendering "law." Since Solomon Schechter's Aspects of Rabbinic Theology,1 however, it has become common to claim that the English...

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Solomon Schechter

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pp. 45-46

In chapter two Torah has been used interchangeably with its tradition rendering "law." Since Solomon Schechter's Aspects of Rabbinic Theology,1 however, it has become common to claim that the English...

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C. H. Dodd

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pp. 46-49

Dodd begins with a survey of the semantic field of nomos. Broadly speaking it meant "an immanent or underlying principle of life and action" (p. 25), but came to have the force of " 'law,' in the proper...

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H.-J. Schoeps

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pp. 49-52

In his well-known monograph on Paul,10 H.-J. Schoeps adopts a catholic view of the impact which the various intellectual forces in the climate of Paul's day had on the thinking of the apostle: none is...

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Samuel Sandmel

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pp. 52-53

Brief, but not without interest, are the remarks of Samuel Sandmel on the torah-nomos equation and its effects on the apostle Paul in his popular study The Genius of Paul.12 Like C. G. Montefiore13 Sandmel...

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W. D. Davies

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pp. 54-55

This chapter can be concluded with a brief look at an author to whose views we will return in more detail later. Reflecting on "pitfalls" in the interpretation of Paul and the law,14 W. D. Davies insists...

Notes

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pp. 55-56

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4. Law, Grace and the "Soteriology" of Judaism

Since the Dead Sea Scrolls began to be published, the revolutionary discovery that Judaism of the Second Temple period was diverse has been announced in several scores of scholarly works. Not to be...

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Martin Luther

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pp. 58-60

For Luther, humanity may be divided into those who adhere to the doctrine of justification by faith and those who do not. The former recognize that "we are redeemed from sin, death and the devil and...

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Rudolf Bultmann

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pp. 60-63

No reader of Luther will be surprised at what no student of the subsequent debate can ignore: the influence of the reformer has been profound. For our purposes, a review of the work of Rudolf Bultmann, undoubtedly the dominant New Testament...

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E. P. Sanders

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pp. 63-66

In theory, at least, there appear to be two possible paths by which the preceding assessment of Judaism might be challenged: either one might reject Luther's contrast between law and gospel (or between law and grace) on which it is based; or, allowing...

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Heikki Räisänen and Other Responses

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pp. 66-72

Sanders' portrayal of Judaism has met with widespread, though not universal, acceptance. The most persistent doubts centre on the suspicion that Sanders has imposed upon the Jewish sources a pattern...

Notes

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pp. 72-74

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5. Law and Christian Ethics

Does law have a place in Christian ethics? The long history and complexity of the discussion resist facile summation. Here a look at the work of three significant British scholars must suffice to indicate some of the issues involved...

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C. H. Dodd

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pp. 75-78

We begin with Dodd and, specifically, with a series of lectures he delivered at Columbia University and published under the title Gospel and Law.5 Dodd is of course aware that...

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David Daube

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pp. 78-80

The published works of David Daube defy classification. His contributions to biblical studies (not his primary field of competence, though the phrase has little meaning in this case) include important...

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W. D. Davies

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pp. 80-85

Even a brief summary of each of the many works of W. D. Davies related to our topic is here out of the question. We will confine our remarks to his views on the Messianic Torah as it was understood in...

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Conclusion

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pp. 85-89

This is a suitable note on which to conclude the chapter. It is a great merit in the writings of all three scholars that they have emphasized the element of moral demand which is both inherent in the concept...

Notes

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pp. 89-91

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6. Torah and Early Christian Groups

The range of attitudes toward the Jewish law which may have been present in early Christianity has been explored in great detail as a focus of 19th- and 20th-century research into the development of the church in the New Testament period. Evidence for diverse...

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F. C. Baur

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pp. 93-95

The range of attitudes toward the Jewish law which may have been present in early Christianity has been explored in great detail as a focus of 19th- and 20th-century research into the development of the church in the New Testament period. Evidence for diverse...

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Albrecht Ritschl

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pp. 95-98

Baur studied the early history of Christianity to understand the development of mankind's religious consciousness. Ritschl's orientation was very different: at the heart of his study of the history of the...

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H.-J. Schoeps

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pp. 98-99

In the latter part of the 19th and early 20th century, most researchers rallied to a schema which is an amalgam of the two we have been examining. They adopted an analysis similar to Ritschl's of the...

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Jean Daniélou

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pp. 99-102

It has been a widely held view that Christian theology in the narrow sense of the term first came about when the tenets of Christianity were expressed in the categories of Greek thought. In active...

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R. E. Brown

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pp. 102-104

Raymond Brown's view of the development of the early church focusses on the various early Christian communities he identifies on the basis of the New Testament writings.8 Like Danielou, Brown...

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Conclusion

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pp. 105-106

What is the correct attitude for the Christian church to hold concerning the Jewish law? This question lies near the heart of the ideas which in Baur's dialectic schema leads the Pauline antithesis to...

Notes

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pp. 106-107

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7. Rivkin and Neusner on the Pharisees

If the First Temple period can be characterized as an era in which Israelites debated whether or not to worship the God of the Bible alone, that question was eventually answered for most as a result of the Babylonian exile: only that God was to be acknowledged. The...

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Ellis Rivkin

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pp. 110-114

The core of Rivkin's work is contained in his paper "Defining the Pharisees: The Tannaitic Sources."7 Rather than offering a definition built out of all the available sources, Rivkin proposes to concentrate on one corpus —Tannaitic literature —and to draw a...

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Jacob Neusner and Morton Smith

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pp. 114-118

Jacob Neusner has devoted many of his extensive scholarly publications to the Pharisees. His views on the subject have changed over the years,30 thus posing a difficulty to an endeavour such as mine:...

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Jacob Neusner

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pp. 118-121

We can now turn to that part of Neusner's work in which he stands on his own. I propose to concentrate on his description of Hillel, on the account of the change in Pharisaism which Neusner attributed to him. According to Neusner, the rabbinic traditions concerning...

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Conclusion

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pp. 121-

It seems appropriate to conclude this chapter with a few remarks on the direction of future studies on the Pharisees. Much remains to be done. We are not (as I once thought) at a point where all that can be known is known, and what is not known is beyond the reach of...

Notes

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pp. 121-126

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8. Sadducees and Halakah

There are no extant Sadducean writings; all attempts to find original Sadducean material in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha have failed.1 We are left only with texts about the Sadducees written by...

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Background

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pp. 127-129

There are no extant Sadducean writings; all attempts to find original Sadducean material in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha have failed.1 We are left only with texts about the Sadducees written by...

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Lauterbach, Finkelstein and Zeitlin

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pp. 129-134

In the early part of the 20th century some influential scholars attempted to clarify the backgrounds of the disputes and to find general principles of disagreement between the Sadducees and the...

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Daube and Lightstone

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pp. 134-137

Some recent scholars take positions similar to those of the scholars mentioned above, but others have questioned such an understanding. David Daube disputes the common view that the Sadducees were...

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Le Moyne and Saldarini

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pp. 137-140

Jean Le Moyne makes an important contribution with a thorough analysis of all available evidence on the Sadducees.62 He is more optimistic than Lightstone concerning the possibilities of finding...

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Conclusion

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pp. 140-142

Many important questions are at stake in the study of the Sadducean halakah, and there is a diversity of opinions among scholars in the area. First, how may we describe their halakah? Earlier scholars...

Notes

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pp. 142-146

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9. Torah and Nomos in Post-Biblical Judaism and Early Christianity

The seminar on torah and nomos, a part of the formal activities of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies from 1983 to 1988, sought to focus on four main features: (1) the relation of torah as understood...

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Background

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pp. 147-149

The seminar on torah and nomos, a part of the formal activities of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies from 1983 to 1988, sought to focus on four main features: (1) the relation of torah as understood...

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Semantic Considerations

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pp. 149-150

Some studies have already been published on the linguistic and semantic question in Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses.4 In its first year, the seminar was presented a paper by Alan F. Segal5 in which Sandmel's claim (that the separation between Judaism and...

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Community Considerations

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pp. 150-153

Another theme that has emerged in the papers published to date and that deserves brief exposure here is the way "law" comes to be interpreted. I have in mind the fact that, while "law" (torah, nomos) serves as the basic constitutional document of Judaism, its various...

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Further Work

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pp. 153-155

The seminar has held back from going very far afield, but two important contributions beyond its usual boundaries have been published. Ira Robinson has analyzed medieval debates on the extent of Torah and whether non-rabbinic disciplines...

Notes

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pp. 155-156

Index of Authors

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pp. 157-159

Index of References

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pp. 161-164


E-ISBN-13: 9780889206328
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889202016
Print-ISBN-10: 088920201X

Page Count: 174
Publication Year: 1991

Series Title: Studies in Christianity and Judaism

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Christianity and law -- History of doctrines -- Early church, ca. 30-600 -- Historiography.
  • Jewish law -- Historiography.
  • Judaism -- History -- Post-exilic period, 586 B.C.-210 A.D. -- Historiography.
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