Alex-David Baldi (KCL) - 2023-24 Students

A Critical Study of Death Penalty Laws in the Pentateuch

My Ph.D. study seeks to provide a set of explanations for why specific death penalty laws were adopted and incorporated in the legal collections of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. It will do so, firstly by locating biblical death penalty laws within the context of capital punishment practices adopted by other cultures in the ancient world, and determining which death penalty laws, if any, were peculiar to the Pentateuch and ancient Israel; and secondly, by locating the biblical death penalty laws within the context of the different communities that are thought to have produced separate parts of the Pentateuch, to try to understand why specific laws were adopted by some communities and not others for inclusion in biblical texts, and if individual adoptions were based on each community’s history, social make-up, and ritual/theological beliefs. The cumulative results of the study will, it is hoped, contribute towards a new understanding of the original meanings of, and motivations behind, death penalty laws in the Pentateuch.

Primary supervisor: Prof Paul Joyce

Secondary supervisor: Prof Joan Taylor

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