Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible for the first time compares the ancient law collections of the Ancient Near East, the Greeks and the Pentateuch to determine the legal antecedents for the biblical laws. Following on from his 2006 work, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus, Gmirkin takes up his theory that the Pentateuch was written around 270 BCE using Greek sources found at the Great Library of Alexandria, and applies this to an examination of the biblical law codes. A striking number of legal parallels are found between the Pentateuch and Athenian laws, and specifically with those found in Plato's Laws of ca. 350 BCE. Constitutional features in biblical law, Athenian law, and Plato's Laws also contain close correspondences. Several genres of biblical law, including the Decalogue, are shown to have striking parallels with Greek legal collections, and the synthesis of narrative and legal content is shown to be compatible with Greek literature.
All this evidence points to direct influence from Greek writings, especially Plato's Laws, on the biblical legal tradition. Finally, it is argued that the creation of the Hebrew Bible took place according to the program found in Plato's Laws for creating a legally authorized national ethical literature, reinforcing the importance of this specific Greek text to the authors of the Torah and Hebrew Bible in the early Hellenistic Era. This study offers a fascinating analysis of the background to the Pentateuch, and will be of interest not only to biblical scholars, but also to students of Plato, ancient law, and Hellenistic literary traditions.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Athenian and Pentateuchal Legal Institutions
Chapter 3: Biblical, Ancient Near Eastern, and Greek Laws
Chapter 4: Greek and Ancient Near Eastern Law Collections
Chapter 5: Greek and Biblical Legal Narratives
Chapter 6: The Creation of the Hebrew Bible
Index of References
Index of Authors
Russell E. Gmirkin is a writer, researcher, and Dead Sea Scrolls scholar living in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch (2006).
"I find this a provocative, stimulating study. This is a significant and exciting contribution to the growing field of interdisciplinary scholarship that explores the influence of Greek culture on the Hebrew Bible. It should be of interest to a number of audiences, those interested in the Hebrew Bible, classicists, comparatists, philosophers and political scientists."
- Bruce Louden, The University of Texas at El Paso, USA
"Gmirkin's book is a richly detailed (form and motif), historical comparison of Ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Pentateuchal law collections that comes as a welcome addition to his 2006 work Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus."
- Journal of Theological Studies
"... [a] very interesting and well documented study"
- Étienne Nodet, French Biblical and Archeological School of Jerusalem, Israel, Revue Biblique, 2018