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Trial Stories in Jewish Antiquity: Counternarratives of Justice

ISBN13: 9780198865148
To be Published: May 2024
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £76.00

What can early Jewish courtroom narratives tell us about the capacity and limits of human justice? By exploring how judges and the act of judging are depicted in these narratives, Trial Stories in Jewish Antiquity: Counternarratives of Justice challenges the prevailing notion, both then and now, of the ideal impartial judge. As a work of intellectual history, the book also contributes to contemporary debates about the role of legal decision-making in shaping a just society. Chaya T. Halberstam shows that instead of modelling a system in which lofty, inaccessible judges follow objective and rational rules, ancient Jewish trial narratives depict a legal practice dependent upon the individual judge's personal relationships, reactive emotions, and impulse to care.

Drawing from affect theory and feminist legal thought, Halberstam offers original readings of some of the most famous trials in ancient Jewish writings alongside minor case stories in Josephus and rabbinic literature. She shows both the consistency of a counter-tradition that sees legal practice as contingent upon relationship and emotion, and the specific ways in which that perspective was manifest in changing times and contexts.

Legal History
1:The Case for Impartiality
2:The King Who Cares in Daniel 6
3:Feeling the Way to Justice in Susanna
4:The Collapse of Judgment in the Trial of Jesus
5:Dissolving Trials in Josephus's Jewish Antiquities
6:Parables of Judgment in Tannaitic Literature
7:Judging within the Rabbinic Household in the Babylonian Talmud