Dylan R. Johnson

Sovereign Authority and the Elaboration of Law in the Bible and the Ancient Near East

[Souveräne Autorität und die Ausarbeitung des Rechts in der Bibel und im Vorderen Orient.]

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sewn paper
ISBN 978-3-16-159509-7
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Published in English.
In this comparative law analysis, Dylan R. Johnson examines how scribes in the Bible and the ancient Near East defined the concepts of sovereignty without a self-reflective legal doctrine. The author outlines how to read the divine law of the Hebrew Bible as part of the broader cultural background of the ancient Near East.
Five Pentateuchal texts (Lev 24:10–23; Num 9:6–14; Num 15:32–36; Num 27:1–11; Num 36:1–12) offer unique visions of the elaboration of law in Israel's formative past. In response to individual legal cases, Yahweh enacts impersonal and general statutes reminiscent of biblical and ancient Near Eastern law collections. From the perspective of comparative law, Dylan R. Johnson proposes a new understanding of these texts as biblical rescripts: a legislative technique that enabled sovereigns to enact general laws on the basis of particular legal cases. Typological parallels drawn from cuneiform and Roman law illustrate the complex ideology informing the content and the form of these five cases. The author explores how latent conceptions of law, justice, and legislative sovereignty shaped these texts, and how the Priestly vision of law interacted with and transformed earlier legal traditions.

Dylan R. Johnson Born 1988; 2012 MTS Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Harvard Divinity School; 2015 MA Hebrew Bible/Ancient Near Eastern Studies, New York University; 2016 Master 2 Histoire du Droit, Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas; 2018 PhD Hebrew Bible/Ancient Near Eastern Studies, New York University; since 2020 Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Zurich.


The following reviews are known:

In: Old Testament Abstracts — 46 (2023), pp. 654–655 (Thomas Hieke)
In: The Bible Today — January 2021, p. 62
In: Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (ZAW) — 133 (2021), p. 278 (Anselm C. Hagedorn)
In: Theologische Literaturzeitung — 146 (2021), pp. 42–46 (Eckart Otto)
In: Review of Biblical Literature — (12/2021) (Sandra Jacobs)