Thursday, December 08, 2016

Review of Hayes, What’s Divine About Divine Law?

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Divine Law in the Container Store (Beth Berkowitz).
In 2016, the History of Rabbinic Literature SBL section hosted a review panel of Dr. Christine Hayes’ book, What’s Divine About Divine Law? Dr. Beth Berkowitz begins the forum in its new home at AJR. ”

One of my favorite stores is the Container Store. The Container Store offers a vision of order. Even your socks and bras and underwear have special containers designed to keep them from disarray. Reading Chris Hayes’s book is the intellectual equivalent of walking through the Container Store. She takes a hugely messy literary heritage from antiquity and, with seemingly magical powers of containment, brings conceptual order to them. Hayes shows that these texts are caught up in common questions, and are simply answering them in different ways for different reasons. Hayes doesn’t hide the mess; she’s not throwing all the dirty clothes and papers into the closet. On the contrary, Hayes is very taken with the textual subtleties, and the multiplicity of discourses. The achievement of Hayes’s book is that its conceptual refinement never entails reduction. Hayes organizes without simplifying.

Past PaleoJudaica posts on the book are here, here, here, and here.