The Law of Moses

St. Mary's University
Fall 2010
Dr. Todd Hanneken

Main course description (LINK)

Once the course begins a week-by-week list of readings will be available here, restricted to registered students. (LINK)

Your username is your stmarytx username. Your password is your student id number, starting with "S00" (must be capital "S").

Book list

Auditors are not required to purchase all the books for the course. The books may also be available to read or photocopy in the library.


Everyone will need at least one Bible with a good translation and notes. It may help draw comparisons if students are using slightly different translations. The three best translations available are NRSV, NAB, and JPS.

The King James (Authorized) Version and New International Version should not be used for the academic study of the Bible (although the King James Version may be of interest for its influence on English-speaking Christianity over the past four hundred years).

Ancient Near Eastern Laws

Martha T. Roth. Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. Second edition, Writings from the Ancient World 6. Atlanta: Scholars, 1997. (LINK)

We will focus on the Laws of Hammurabi.

General Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

John J. Collins. A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007. (LINK)

Although only the first few chapters will be required, this is a good resource to have around. Many of the literary and historical issues from the rest of the Hebrew Bible are relevant to understanding the Torah.

Secondary Source on Law in Ancient Israel and Early Judaism

Joseph Blenkinsopp. Wisdom and Law in the Old Testament: The Ordering of Life in Israel and Early Judaism. Revised ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

We will be especially interested in pages 84-133. This book is available as an ebook through the library website (LINK). There are some restrictions on how many pages can be viewed or printed per hour, so I recommend printing or saving pages 84-133 well in advance. You may also purchase the book in the traditional format, if you prefer. (LINK)

Ancient Interpretation of the Torah

James L. Kugel. The Bible As It Was. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1997 (paperback 1999). (LINK)

This book is more focused on the narrative portions of the Torah, but is excellent for illustrating how the simple or original sense of the biblical texts took on new meaning as interpreters read scripture in ever-changing contexts. It's also an enjoyable read, such that you might find yourself reading non-required portions after the course is over.

Additional materials will be available to students through the website and library reserves.

Last updated 8/13/2010