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Law Beyond Israel: From the Bible to the Qur’an

Holger M. Zellentin

Law Beyond Israel: From the Bible to the Qur'an

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Zelletin (Holger M.), Law Beyond Israel: From the Bible to the Qur’an, Oxford Oxford University Press, 2022, 368 p. ISBN 9780199675579


Holger M. Zellentin is Professor of Religion (Jewish and Islamic Studies) and the Director of the Institute for Jewish Studies et the Faculty of Protestant Theology
Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen.


The Hebrew Bible formulates two sets of law: one for the Israelites and one for the gentile “residents” living in the Holy Land. Law Beyond Israel: From the Bible to the Qur’an argues that these biblical laws for non-Israelites form the historical basis of qur’anic law. The study corroborates its central claim by assessing laws for gentiles in late antique Jewish and especially in Christian legal discourse, pointing to previously underappreciated legal continuity from the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament and from late antique Christianity to nascent Islam. This volume first sketches the legal obligations that the Hebrew Bible imposes on humanity more broadly and, more specifically, on the non-Israelite residents of the Holy Land. It then traces these laws through Second Temple Judaism to the early Jesus movement, illustrating how the biblical laws for residents inform those formulated in the Acts of the Apostles. Building on this legal continuity, the study employs detailed historical and literary analyses of legal narratives in order to make three propositions. First, rabbinic laws for gentiles, the so-called Noahide Laws, while offering a more lenient interpretation than the one we find in Acts, are equally based on the biblical laws for gentile residents of the Holy Land. Second, Christians generally appreciated and even expanded the gentile laws of Acts. Third, the Qur’an remakes traditional Arabian religious practice by formulating its own distinctive approach to the biblical laws for gentiles, in close continuity with—and at times in critical distance from—late antique Jewish and especially Christian gentile law.


Front Matter
Copyright Page
List of Tables
Texts, Transcriptions, Transliterations, Translations, and Abbreviations

Introduction: Law for Jews and Law for Gentiles

1 Blood and Demons: Genesis 9 and Leviticus 17 to Q 6 Sūrat al-Anʿām 145–6 and Q 5 Sūrat al-Māʾida 3

2 Sex as Crime: Leviticus 18:19–26 to Qur’anic fāḥisha/faḥshāʾ (Sexual Transgression) and zinā (Fornication)

3 The Poetics of Incest Law: Leviticus 18:6–18 to Q 4 Sūrat al-Nisāʾ 22–23

4 Purity and Punishment in the Qur’an

An Outlook

End Matter
Works Quoted

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