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The Concept of Intention in the Old Testament, Philo of Alexandria and the Early Rabbinic Literature


A study in human intentionality in the area of criminal, cultic and religious and ethical law.


Does God take into account only the physical act, or does He also consider intention? Does inward motivation truly matter in the areas of criminal or cultic law? Were there differences between the biblical, hellenistic and rabbinic views on intention? This book explores what the Old Testament, Philo, and the early Rabbis thought about human intentionality in a legal context.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-59333-653-0
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Feb 8,2011
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 513
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-59333-653-0
$230.04
$138.02

In this book the author asks what the Old Testament, Philo of Alexandria and the Early Rabbinic literature thought about human intention. Did intention truly matter in the areas of criminal or cultic law? Does God take into account only the physical act, or does He also consider the inward motivation? Were there differences between the biblical, hellenistic and rabbinic views on intention? The book explores a number of practical cases in which human intention was deemed important. In the area of criminal law, the biblical legislators took intention very seriously, as they distinguished between accidental and premeditated homicide. They also paid close attention to the motives that guided the worshippers when they approached God with their sacrifices (cultic law), and they distinguished among different aspects of actions and attitudes that led to sin, employing a surprisingly wide variety of terms (religious and ethical law). Yet not only the Old Testament, but also Hellenistic authors such as Philo of Alexandria and Rabbinic authors showed a profound familiarity with the vocabulary of intent. They too asked: how did God and their fellow human beings view intentionality? Would a human court or God punish the mere thoughts of, say, adultery, idolatry or hate? Would thoughts and intentions such as these remain unpunished, if not followed by the actual deeds? The book surveys a wide number of texts in order to answer these and other difficult questions.

In this book the author asks what the Old Testament, Philo of Alexandria and the Early Rabbinic literature thought about human intention. Did intention truly matter in the areas of criminal or cultic law? Does God take into account only the physical act, or does He also consider the inward motivation? Were there differences between the biblical, hellenistic and rabbinic views on intention? The book explores a number of practical cases in which human intention was deemed important. In the area of criminal law, the biblical legislators took intention very seriously, as they distinguished between accidental and premeditated homicide. They also paid close attention to the motives that guided the worshippers when they approached God with their sacrifices (cultic law), and they distinguished among different aspects of actions and attitudes that led to sin, employing a surprisingly wide variety of terms (religious and ethical law). Yet not only the Old Testament, but also Hellenistic authors such as Philo of Alexandria and Rabbinic authors showed a profound familiarity with the vocabulary of intent. They too asked: how did God and their fellow human beings view intentionality? Would a human court or God punish the mere thoughts of, say, adultery, idolatry or hate? Would thoughts and intentions such as these remain unpunished, if not followed by the actual deeds? The book surveys a wide number of texts in order to answer these and other difficult questions.

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Contributor Biography

Aurelian Botica

Currently, Lecturer in Hebrew Studies at the Emanuel University of Oradea. BA in Philosophy at Asbury College, Kentucky (1994); MA in Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary (1997). MA (2000) and Ph.D. in Hebrew and Cognate Languages at the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati (2006). I wrote a number of articles on the topics of Rabbinic Judaism and the Old Testament.For example, 1. "Theodicy as Theophany in the Book of Job," Perichoresis, vol. 2, nr. 1 (2004) 2. " 'When Heaven is Shut Up.' Ancient Near Eastern Backgrounds to the Concept of Natural Calamity," Perichoresis, vol. 4. nr. 1 (2006)3. "The role of intention in 'non-action' action, where the intent, not the action, establishes blame or praise – a review of scholarly literature," Supliment Teologic. Crestinul Azi, vol 4, nr. 1 (2006)

  • Acknowledgments (page 5)
  • Table of Contents (page 7)
  • List of Tables (page 11)
  • Introduction (page 13)
    • A. State of the Problem and Purpose (page 13)
    • B. Definition and Methodology (page 14)
  • 1 The Role of Intention in Criminal Law (page 21)
    • 1.1. Exodus 21:12-25 (Cf. Leviticus 24:17) (page 21)
      • 1.1.1. General historical and literary analysis (page 21)
      • 1.1.2. Philological and conceptual analysis (page 26)
    • 1.2. Numbers 35:9-34, Deuteronomy 4:41-42; 19:1-12, Joshua 20 (page 34)
      • 1.2.1. General historical and literary issues (page 34)
        • 1.2.1.1. The institution of asylum (page 35)
        • 1.2.1.2. The role of the temple in the administration of justice asdivine jurisdiction (page 40)
      • 1.2.2. Philological and conceptual analysis (page 43)
        • 1.2.2.1. Numbers 35:11-34 (page 43)
        • 1.2.2.2. Deuteronomy 4:41-42; 19:1-12 and Joshua 20 (page 52)
    • 1.3. Summary (page 60)
  • 2 The Role of Intention Incultic/ritual Law Texts (page 63)
    • 2.1. Leviticus 4, 5, and Numbers 15„Overview Of Historical and Literary Issues (page 63)
      • 2.1.1. The historical character of Leviticus 4, 5, and Numbers 15 (page 64)
      • 2.1.2. The literary arrangement of Leviticus 4, 5, and Numbers 15:22-30 (page 66)
        • 2.1.2.1. Leviticus 4„A hierarchy of inadvertentŽ offenders (page 66)
        • 2.1.2.2. Leviticus 5„A list of possible offenses9 (page 67)
        • 2.1.2.3. Numbers 15:22-30„Generic cases of inadvertent (of omission)and intentional offenses (page 68)
    • 2.2. Philological and Conceptual Analysis (page 72)
      • 2.2.1. The offerings (page 72)
      • 2.2.2. The biblical view (page 77)
      • 2.2.3. Scholarly views (page 79)
      • 2.2.4. Analysis of Leviticus 4, 5, and Numbers 15 (page 81)
        • 2.2.4.1. Leviticus 4 (page 81)
        • 2.2.4.2. Leviticus 5 (page 85)
        • 2.2.4.3. Numbers 15 (page 97)
    • 2.3. Summary (page 103)
  • 3 The Role of Intention in NonactionŽcases, Or Cases Wherethe Intent, More Than The Action, Establishes Blame Or Praise (page 107)
    • 3.1. Overview of General Issues and Scholarly Literature (page 107)
    • 3.2. General Semantic Background of Key Terms For Expressing the Notion of IntentŽ (page 121)
      • 3.2.1. Idioms for divine examinationŽ of heart, mind, and thoughts (page 121)
        • 3.2.1.1. Background of the concept of testingŽ (page 122)
        • 3.2.1.2. Idioms for divine examinationŽ of intentions, thoughts,mind, and heart (page 124)
      • 3.2.2. A classification of terms related to actual physical organs andphysiological functions with mental and emotive characteristics (page 129)
        • 3.2.2.1. Terms related to actual physical organs (page 129)
        • 3.2.2.2. Terms serving as intermediary between the physiological andpurely intellectual/spiritual/emotive processes (page 136)
        • 3.2.2.3. Terms denoting intellectual and spiritual/emotive processes (page 139)
    • 3.3. Analysis of Biblical Passages (page 145)
      • 3.3.1. The role of intentionŽ in cases of divine-human relations (page 145)
        • 3.3.1.1. The discernment of intentions/thoughts/motivations by God(the divine examination of the heart) (page 146)
        • 3.3.1.2. The role of intention in texts describing observable culticand/or religious acts (page 166)
      • 3.3.2. The role of intentionŽ in mixed cases of inter-human anddivine-human relationships (page 173)
      • 3.3.3. The notion of positive intentionŽ (page 177)
    • 3.4. Summary (page 178)
  • 4 The Role of Intention in Philoof Alexandria, in Criminal And Cultic, Religious and Ethical Texts (page 181)
    • 4.1. the Role of Intention in Action Cases of Criminal Law (page 181)
      • 4.1.1. General review of the problem of criminal intentŽ in scholarship (page 181)
        • 4.1.1.1. Review of scholarship on the notion of intent in criminal lawin the Graeco-Roman world (page 182)
        • 4.1.1.2. Review of Scholarship on the Philonic Notion of Intent Incriminal Law (page 198)
      • 4.1.2. Philological and conceptual analysis of the Philonic texts onintentionŽ in criminal law (page 212)
        • 4.1.2.1. Frequent idioms for intentŽ in criminal law in Philo andGraeco-Roman literature (page 213)
        • 4.1.2.2. The generalŽ aspect of intention in criminal cases (page 225)
        • 4.1.2.3. The complexŽ aspects of intention in criminal cases (page 231)
      • 4.1.3. Preliminary conclusions (page 250)
    • 4.2. the Role of Intention in Non-actionŽ Cases, Orcases Where the Intent, More Than the Action, Establishes Blame Or Praise (page 252)
      • 4.2.1. General review of scholarship on the concept of intentionŽ in the areas of the cult, piety and ethics/philosophy (page 253)
        • 4.2.1.1. Review of scholarship on the Graeco-Roman authors (page 254)
        • 4.2.1.2. Review of Philonic scholarship (page 281)
      • 4.2.2. The analysis of the philonic texts on intentionŽ in the areas ofritual, piety, ethics and philosophy (page 293)
        • 4.2.2.1. The role of intention in piety and the reinterpretation of thecult (page 294)
        • 4.2.2.2. The role of intention in religious/theological and ethical(philosophical) texts (page 311)
    • 4.3. Summary (page 327)
  • 5 The Role of Intention in Early Rabbinic Literature, In Criminal, Cultic/religious And Ethical Texts (page 331)
    • 5.1. Terminology for IntentŽ (page 332)
      • 5.1.1. (page 332)
      • 5.1.2. (page 334)
      • 5.1.3. (page 336)
      • 5.1.4. (page 337)
      • 5.1.5. (page 338)
      • 5.1.6. (page 343)
      • 5.1.7. (page 343)
      • 5.1.8. (page 343)
      • 5.1.9. (page 344)
    • 5.2. The Role of Intention in Action Cases of Criminal (page 345)
      • 5.2.1. Review of scholarly literature (page 346)
      • 5.2.2. Analysis of texts„The role of intention in action-cases of criminal law (page 354)
        • 5.2.2.1. Rabbinic commentaries on biblical passages (page 355)
        • 5.2.2.2. The category of liability for intended, but not completed,homicideŽ (page 364)
        • 5.2.2.3. The category of liability for indirect causationŽ and incitementŽ (page 369)
    • 5.3. The Role of Intention in Civil and Cultic (Ritual) Law, and in Non-action Cases, Or Cases Where Theintent, More Than the Action, Establishes Blame Or Praise (page 373)
      • 5.3.1. Review of scholarly literature (page 374)
        • 5.3.1.1. Civil and cultic (ritual) law (page 374)
        • 5.3.1.2. Non-action cases, or cases where the intent, not the action,establishes blame or praise (page 383)
      • 5.3.2. Analysis of texts (page 398)
        • 5.3.2.1. Intentionality in civil and cultic (ritual) law (page 399)
        • 5.3.2.2. The role of intention in non-action cases, or cases where theintent, more than the action, establishes blame or praise (page 436)
  • Conclusions (page 455)
  • Bibliography (page 469)
  • Index of Subjects (page 491)
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