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Image of the Non-Jew in JudaismA Historical and Constructive Study of the Noahide Laws$
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David Novak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764074

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764074.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

The Origins of the Noahide Laws

The Origins of the Noahide Laws

(p.11) Chapter One The Origins of the Noahide Laws
Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism

David Novak

Liverpool University Press

This chapter traces the origins of the Noahide laws in the history of Judaism. Earlier scholars located its origins variously: in the Bible, among Hittite legal scholars, and during the Maccabean era. The chapter maintains, contrary to prior scholarship, that the concept of the Noahide is absent until the first century CE; that is, it is a rabbinic creation. While theology can discover the beginnings of the Noahide laws in the Torah, their historical starting point can only be established following the social, demographic, and religious dislocations of the Second Temple's destruction in 70 CE. For the rabbis, these laws originated prior to the Sinaitic revelation; they were the moral standard for the entire gentile world, and that world of course included the ancestors of those who would later accept the covenant at Sinai. Israelites before Sinai, then, were Noahides. The Noahide laws were also considered obligatory for all time, and would be the measure by which gentiles would be judged.

Keywords:   Noahide laws, Judaism, rabbinic creation, Torah, Second Temple, Sinaitic revelation, gentile world, Israelites, Noahides, gentiles

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