772 Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Law

This course will offer an extended exploration of the earliest legal materials known to human history (beginning with the Laws of Ur-Namma) and, arguably, the ancient world’s most important legal materials for the history of law in the Western tradition—namely, the Bible. The course thus provides students with wide exposure to the history of law, indeed its very roots (at least for the Western intellectual tradition), while at the same time affording access to the long and complicated interrelationships of law and religion that are evident already in the ancient world and that continue to the present day, not least (for example) in debates over the Ten Commandments. In these ways, the course should prove helpful and informative, not only in terms of legal history and development, but also in moving toward a better understanding of at least some of the dynamics surrounding religious law and/or religious groups’ and individual adherents’ relationship(s) to law.  Students will be evaluated on class participation, including tracking and presenting on a legal topic (e.g., status, property, family, intention, homicide, etc.) across the semester, and either a series of shorter papers or a longer research paper to satisfy the SRWP.

Course Areas of Practice
Evaluation Methods
  • Research paper option, 25+ pages
  • Research and/or analytical paper(s), 10-15 pages
  • Oral presentation
  • Class participation
Degree Requirements
Course Type
  • Seminar
Learning Outcomes
  • Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law
  • Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context

Spring 2023

2023
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Days/Times Room

772.01 3
  • Research paper option, 25+ pages
  • Research and/or analytical paper(s), 10-15 pages
  • Oral presentation
  • Class participation
Brent Strawn MW 4:00 PM - 5:25 PM 4044

This course will offer an extended exploration of the earliest legal materials known to human history (beginning with the Laws of Ur-Namma) and, arguably, the ancient world’s most important legal materials for the history of law in the Western tradition—namely, the Bible. The course thus provides students with wide exposure to the history of law, indeed its very roots (at least for the Western intellectual tradition), while at the same time affording access to the long and complicated interrelationships of law and religion that are evident already in the ancient world and that continue to the present day, not least (for example) in debates over the Ten Commandments. In these ways, the course should prove helpful and informative, not only in terms of legal history and development, but also in moving toward a better understanding of at least some of the dynamics surrounding religious law and/or religious groups’ and individual adherents’ relationship(s) to law.  Students will be evaluated on class participation, including tracking and presenting on a legal topic (e.g., status, property, family, intention, homicide, etc.) across the semester, and either a series of shorter papers or a longer research paper to satisfy the SRWP.

Pre/Co-requisites
None

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.