Abstracts

LITERARY FORM

Baruch Bokser, "Talmudic form Criticism", JJS 31.1 (1980), 46-60. - A succinct and valuable analysis of Form Criticism and its assumptions and tasks and possible achievements as this pertains to rabbinic Literature. Bokser distinguishes various techniques, formulae and investigative procedures. The examples are mostly drawn from the master Samuel's teachings, on which Bokser has contributed a monograph (Samuel's Commentary on the Mishnah), and other studies; see AJSRev 4 (1979). Among various observations, particularly of note is Bokser's observation that the received dispute form in rabbinic literature is not necessarily original, and may result from juxtaposed traditions, themselves subsequently reworked. (M.F.)

P.E. Dion, "'Tu feras disparaître le Mal du Milieu de toi'", RB 87 (1980), 321-349. - In 1963 J. L'Hour examined the laws which end with the formula ubi'arta hara miqqirbeka "so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you" (Biblica 44 (1963), 1-28), cf. Deut. 13:2-6, 17:2-7, etc. He concluded that these laws contained casuistic legislation which was authentically Yahwistic and of great age. Dion modifies L'Hour's conclusions. He provides a new examination of these formulations, including Phoenician (KAI 26) and Akkadian parallels (Gilgamesh, Prologue to Hammurabi's law code). He calls attention to the "formula of dissuasion" which sometimes accompanies the bi'arta formula (Deut. 17:12-13, 19:19-20, 21:12). The two formulas reflect different attitudes: the bi'arta aims to extirpate the evil, for the preservation of the community; the dissuasion intends to prevent the repetition of the wrongdoing. (J.D.)

Pinchas Doron, "Motive Clauses in the Laws of Deuteronomy: Their Forms, Functions, and Contents", Hebrew Annual Review 2 (1978), 61-77; see OTA 9/2 (1986), no.507.

B.S. Jackson, "Legal Drafting in the Ancient Near East in the Light of Modern Theories of Cognitive Development", Mélanges à la mémoire de Marcel-Henri Prévost (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1982), 49-66. - The history of legal drafting is here considered in the light of theories of language acquisition, and particularly the cognitive development theory of Piaget. Examples are given of development in drafting from the treatment in a single clause of only one variable to the combination of multiple variables, the development of motive clauses, the phenomenon of "completomania", the development of consistency in the use of drafting forms, the growth of integration, as shown in paragraphing devices, the development of abstraction (Daube's examples of the "action noun" and the "diagnosis form"). A pilot comparison is attempted of the cognitive characteristics of different biblical law documents, and the approaches applied to the history of the homicide sources in the Bible. In the course of discussing many of the examples, comparison is made with the form-critical approach. A related article, with greater emphasis on the theoretical base of this approach ("Historical Aspects of Legal Drafting in the Light of Modern Theories of Cognitive Development"), is published in International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 3 (1980), 349-369. (B.S.J.)

Bent Mogensen, Israelitiske leveregler og deres begrundelse, Gad, København, 1983, ISBN 87-12-07111-0, Pp. 286, Price: 146 Dkr. - This book on Israelite Behaviour Maxims and their justifications in the Old Testament was accepted as a licentiate dissertation in Aarhus. It discusses examples of behaviour maxims from OT, Egyptian wisdom - and a well-known Danish book (by Emma Gad) on good manners. The author analyses the form and content of the OT maxims and divides into two groups: 1. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes; 2. the Decalogue, the Book of the Covenant, the Holiness Code, Deuteronomy - each of which having its own characteristics. The book ends up with a stimulating survey of the history of research of the field. (K.N.)

Jacob Neusner, "Redaction, Formulation, and Form: The Case of Mishnah", JQR 70.3 (1980), 131-47. - Neusner stresses that our estimation of the plan and program of the formation of the Mishnah must be derived from internal evidence, and also start with the end-product, working backward from there to the earliest units, his 'cognitive units'. In his essay Neusner seeks to clarify the procedures whereby he obtained the results noted in his Redaction and Formulation of the Order of Purities in Mishnah and Tosefta (Leiden, 1977). Neusner discusses the thematic nature of Mishnah's organisation, and the logical exposition from primary to secondary and tertiary refinements. He also notes the relationship of this to stylistics. The principles of organisation of Tosefta are different, and the question must always be asked just how it is related to Mishnah. Comments by Richard Sarason appear on pp. 147-52. (M.F.)

Rifat Sonsino, Motive Clauses in Hebrew Law, Biblical Forms and Near Eastern Parallels, Chico Ca.: Scholars Press, 1980, Pp. xix, 336, ISBN 0-89130-0 (318-9 pkb.) (Society of Biblical Literature, Dissertation Series 45). - This book seeks to provide a comprehensive, form-critical account of the incidence of the motive clause in Biblical law. A preliminary chapter assesses modern discussions of the forms of Biblical and ancient Near Eastern laws in general, concluding that the background is usually too blurred to reconstruct an original Sitz im Leben. The author then turns to the motive clause in Biblical law. He distinguishes it from both "explicative notes" and "legal parenesis"; his definition nevertheless includes both justification of the content of the law, and motives for its obedience. He finds a wide variety of formal characteristics within motive clauses. In order to assess the distribution of motive clauses in the different legal collections of the Bible, he provides guidelines to the identification of the "individual legal prescription" (80-85). He accepts that some subjective evaluation is inevitably involved in the adoption of these criteria. One may add that the identification of the motive clauses themselves is subject to the same difficulty. The net result is that the statistics on the distribution of motive clauses should be treated with extreme care. Nevertheless, the author has raised many questions which call for more detailed study. His general conclusions, regarding the particular incidence of motive clauses in "moral " and "political" laws, as opposed to "cultic" and "civil" rules, is used to explain the greater incidence of the motive clause in the Bible than in the ancient Near Eastern collections. These latter, and their comparison with the Biblical laws, are the subjects of separate chapters. The author also draws conclusions for the literary-historical study of Biblical legal texts: motive clauses are not restricted to late sources, and should not be regarded as editorial additions merely because they are motive clauses. For an interesting review article on this book, see B. Schwartz, JSS 28 (1983), 161-163. (B.S.J.)

Zipora Talshir, "The Detailing Formula 'Vezeh (Ha)davar ... '", Tarbiz 41 (1982), iv, 23-36 (Heb.). - The author examines a formula used to introduce detailed specification in both legal and non-legal passages. She elaborates on its significance in a number of texts. (B.J.S.)

 

 

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