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Hidary Publishes Review of “What’s Divine About Divine Law?”

Dr. Richard Hidary, associate professor of Judaic studies at Stern College for Women, published a review of What’s Divine about Divine Law? Early Perspectives by Christine Hayes (Princeton University Press) in the Spring 2018 Jewish Review of Books.

Hayes’ book examines the classical and biblical roots of the Western idea of divine law and shows how early adherents to biblical tradition, such as Hellenistic Jewish writers such as Philo, the community at Qumran, Paul, and the talmudic rabbis, struggled to make sense of this conflicting legacy.

Hidary’s review lauds Hayes for her intellectual efforts and agrees with what he sees as Hayes’ point of view in the book that "far from being universal, unchanging, and true, God authorizes and takes pride in the human endeavor to augment, amend, and sometimes even to correct His law” and quotes her to this effect: “For the most part rabbinic sources represent divine law as responsive to the shifting conditions of human existence, and humans as active participants in its ongoing evolution. [Rabbis] constructed a portrait of divine law whose very divinity was enhanced rather than impugned by its divorce from truth, its particular and arbitrary character, and its susceptibility to moral critique and modification.”

The review can be read in its entirety here.