Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This essay applies Emile Durkheim’s category of “repressive law” to the laws dealing with purity and sancta desecration in the Hebrew Bible. Specifically, this chapter seeks to develop Durkheim’s insight by viewing these laws as an expression of the “collective conscience.” More broadly, it is shown how the biblical materials, when viewed in the light of contemporary legal theory, can offer a fascinating historical perspective for reflection on the relation between morality and law and their psychological and sociological foundations. As a test case, the final section of the paper brings these ancient texts to bear on the debate in modern legal theory regarding retribution.

Keywords: Emile Durkheim, taboo, purity, impurity, pollution, desecration, retribution, punishment, sacred, holiness

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.