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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Legal material is crucial for the Pentateuch’s formation. After an overview of pentateuchal research and documentary hypotheses, the legal collections and their interrelationship are discussed. Although a pre-exilic deuteronomic core, rewriting the Covenant Code, is likely, its final editing is a post-exilic development, with priestly laws and the Holiness Code following. The evolving Pentateuch becomes a distinct entity in the fourth century bce, but the text remains in a certain flux through the Hellenistic period. As a foundational document, consolidating the Judean and Samaritan communities alike, it reflects concerns with the revived temple cult(s) and Persian influence on Israelite practice. The Pentateuch receives special status earlier than the Prophets and the Writings. The transition from descriptive instruction to prescriptive law, from formative ideal to normative legislation, is a continuous process through the Hellenistic and Roman periods, with bearing on tensions around legal interpretation during the late Second Temple period.

Keywords: Torah, canon, documentary hypothesis, Covenant Code, Deuteronomy, priestly laws, Holiness Code, Pentateuch, Persian period, Hellenistic period

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