[b-hebrew] oral law

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Fri Jun 23 11:53:49 EDT 2006

Dear Yitzhak, you wrote:

> The claim that there is no oral law is just as external to the Torah/Bible
> as the claim that there is.  More to the point, and without identifying
> the oral law as the Mishna/Talmud, it is very likely that there is an oral
> law, simply because any code of law that is written is written in a
> context, and further generations must interpret that law to allow new
> situations to be addressed.  While something may have seemed clear
> to the author of the law, it may not be so clear to its practitioners
> generations hence.  All of this creates the background whereby any code
> of law that is written down, has along with it, associated understandings
> that are not written down, and also must be interpreted continuously in
> further generations.

I'd like to call your attention to my article in Persia and Torah (SBL
2001)and all the references cited there which argue that these lists of
"laws" did not function then as our law codes function today.  In other
words, they were not true laws, in our sense.  Rather, they were lists
designed to illustrate a just society. There is no evidence that judges used
these lists to make judicial decisions. 


Lisbeth S. Fried
Ann Arbor

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