With this theoretical caveat, my project compares cross-cultural relations of power that cause law, or law-like practices in indigenous contexts, to surface as objects of discourse with a view to answering a fundamental question, “Why law”? I argue that this comparative grid can be applied to such disparate cultural practices as: Ilongot headhunting, court proceedings among the Talean Zapotecs in Mexico and the Dou Donggo in Indonesia, Roman legal fiction, Philo and Josephus’ descriptions of Judean laws and customs authorized by Roman legal precedent, modifications to indigenous law during the colonization of 19th century Hawaii, and Matthew and Paul’s views of Judean law. By putting all of this together, I am defamiliarizing for us as scholars Matthew and Paul on the topic of law.Another unpublished PhD thesis written under my supervision might be of interest in this context: Kathleen Burt, “Ritual in the Damascus Document and the Gospel of Matthew” (University of St. Andrews, 2014). Dr. Burt applied Catherine Bell's typology of ritual to the Damascus Document and Matthew as a way of moving beyond discussion of "Law" in relation to ancient Judaism and the New Testament.
The above is another (presumably the last) essay in AJR's series from the SBL 2016 Pauline Epistles Review Panel. I noted earlier essays in the series here and links. The panel reviewed Matthew Thiessen’s Paul and the Gentile Problem and David Kaden’s Matthew, Paul, and the Anthropology of Law.
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