Loi et justice dans la litterature du Proche-Orient ancien.

Author:Czander, Giovanna
Position:Book review

Loi et justice dans la litterature du Proche-Orient ancien. Edited by OLIVIER ARTUS. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift fur Altorientalische und Biblische Rechtsgeschichte, vol. 20. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2013. Pp. 274. [euro]68.

This volume, edited by Olivier Artus, includes fourteen essays presented at two colloquia organized in the Spring of 2010 and 2011 by the Institut catholique de Paris and entitled "Loi et justice dans la litterature du Proche-Orient ancien et dans l'Ancien Testament." In his introduction, Artus remarks that the concepts of "law and justice" and their relationship in the ancient Near East are complex and require a variety of methodological approaches, which the volume sets out to provide. Artus offers a rationale for a tripartite organization of the book and an overview of the methodological and epistemo-logical questions underlying the essays.

The first section addresses questions related to the concepts of "law and justice." Is the practice of justice always expressed in the laws? What is the role of law collections vis-a-vis legal practice and the concept of justice? And of course, there is the well-known question of the nature of the "code" of Hammurabi. Was it royal propaganda, a collection of legal sentences, or a collection of legal precepts? These and other questions should be addressed, notes Artus, with the awareness that the seemingly vast number of ancient Near Eastern legal documents are but a fraction of the total legal documents that must have been produced.

The second section focuses on the criteria and methodology of interpretation of the extant texts and specifically on how they can be used to shed light on actual ancient Near Eastern legal practices. It also addresses the reception of legal texts in ancient Israel's wisdom literature, which attests to how laws and the concept of justice evolved throughout ancient Israel's historical circumstances.

The third section is devoted to the reception of concepts of law and justice in early Christian texts.

The first section of the volume, entitled "Loi et justice dans le Proche-Orient ancien," includes the following articles: Daniel Petit, "Crime et chatiment en indo-europeen: Une perspective historiographique"; Jean-Marie Durand, "La notion de 'roi de justice' a l'epoque amorrite"; Michael Guichard and Lionel Marti, "La justice sociale dans les inscriptions des rois mesopotamiens: Etude de cas"; Sophie Demare-Lafont, "L'ecriture du droit en Mesopotamie"...

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