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What's Divine about Divine Law?Early Perspectives$
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Christine Hayes

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691165196

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691165196.001.0001

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Natural Law in Rabbinic Sources?

Natural Law in Rabbinic Sources?

(p.328) Chapter 8 Natural Law in Rabbinic Sources?
What's Divine about Divine Law?

Christine Hayes

Princeton University Press

The first part of this chapter considers rabbinic sources against the backdrop of Second Temple Jewish and early Christian sources on the following question: was there a law before the Mosaic Law revealed at Sinai? If not, is the pre-Sinai period viewed positively or negatively? In other words, was the period before Sinai a law-free golden age that came to an end with the giving of the Law, or was it a lawless dark age redeemed by the giving of the Law? The second part considers the specific case of the Noahide laws, which have been touted by some scholars as a rabbinic version of natural law or, at least, as a resource for the construction of a natural law view. Does the rabbinic conception of Noahide law match classical definitions of natural law and function in the same manner as natural law as understood in antiquity?

Keywords:   divine law, Second Temple Jewish, rabbinic texts, Mosaic Law, Sinai, Noahide laws

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