Bruce Wells: Sex Crimes in the Laws of the Hebrew Bible

Professor Bruce Wells (Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia) talks about matters discussed in his recent article, “Sex Crimes in the Laws of the Hebrew Bible,” in an ASOR podcast of April 6, 2016.

Although biblical texts identify a range of sexual behavior as illicit, adultery is the only sexual act addressed in the law collections as a crime. Some scholars have argued that the treatment of adultery in biblical law is better and more favorable toward women than that found in the cuneiform law collections; others have argued precisely the opposite. What is more likely is that biblical law is largely in keeping with how ancient Near Eastern societies other than Israel and Judah handled adultery and should not necessarily be evaluated as either better or worse from a modern perspective.

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