Richard Hiers (University of Florida) has posted Ancient Laws, Yet Strangely Modern: Biblical Contract and Tort Jurisprudence. The abstract follows.
People generally, and even most biblical scholars, tend to view biblical law as, at best, a random patchwork of odd and antiquated commandments and rules. The present Article demonstrates that many biblical laws can be understood to have functioned in biblical time, in ways remarkably similar to various laws characterized in modern AngloAmerican jurisprudence as contract and tort law. In particular, the Article points out that the biblical tort laws found in Exodus 21:18 through 22:17 are structured along lines closely parallel to concepts found in modern tort law jurisprudence. Many of the biblical laws considered here give expression to the underlying values of concern for the worth and well being of both individuals and the community. The findings here should be of interest to both legal and biblical scholars.