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How God Became a Lawgiver


Anna Angelini, Enoch Seminar (29.01.24)

Colloque Francophone du Séminaire Enoch / Enoch Seminar

Connaître les lois des cieux : Loi divine, ordre de la nature et sagesse secrète dans les traditions sapientielles

Divine Laws in the Ancient World – A Comparative Approach (Conference, 14.-15. March 2024)

14th–15th March 2024
Roma, Istituto Svizzero

This conference situates the evidence of the Hebrew Bible within the legal traditions from the broader ancient Mediterranean / ancient Near Eastern cultures by taking a comparative approach to the issue of divine lawgiving understood in a broad sense. Covering the time frame of the First Millennium BCE (until the Hellenistic period), the inquiry not only addresses formal acts of divine legislation in different religious contexts but also investigates the many possible ways in which divine agents are represented as a source of authority, serve as guarantors for the law, enact justice or enforce norms.

Program (Flyer) (PDF, 5 MB)
Poster (PDF, 310 KB)

Previous Events

Lecture by Anna Angelini at the University of Siena (Italy)

29 November 2023, 4 pm
Aula 14, University of Siena

"Tra legge e natura: pensare le origini del mondo con i Presocratici"
Flyer (PDF, 75 KB)

Lecture Matthias Hopf at the facoltà Valdese

La Facoltà Valdese di Teologia a Roma
17 October 2023, 6 pm
Matthias Hopf, University of Zurich
Parole e frasi affettive nella 'Legge di Santità'

SBL Annual Meeting San Antonio

SBL Annual Meeting San Antonio
Special Session "Biblical Law"
19 November 2023, 4 pm to 6:30 pm
302A (Ballroom Level) - San Antonio Convention Center

Theme: How God Became a Lawgiver
Yael Landman, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Presiding

Dylan Johnson, Cardiff University
Divine and Royal Lawgiving in the Ancient Near East (20 min + 5 min discussion)
Tag(s): Law Codes & Legal Documents (Ancient Near Eastern Literature - Genre), Law (Comparative Religion / History of Religion)

Lida Leonie Panov, Universität Zürich
The Use of Legal Rituals in Litigation in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Texts (20 min+ 5 min discussion)
Tag(s): Law Codes & Legal Documents (Ancient Near Eastern Literature - Genre), Ritual & Sacrifice (Comparative Religion / History of Religion)

Konrad Schmid, Universität Zürich
Divine Laws: An Intellectual History (20 min + 5 min discussion)
Tag(s): Law (Comparative Religion / History of Religion), Law and Politics (History of Interpretation / Reception History / Reception Criticism)

Matthias Hopf, Universität Zürich
Abomination! Observations on the Origins of Emotional Argumentation in the “Legal” Texts of the Hebrew Bible (20 min+ 5 min discussion)
Tag(s): Law Codes & Legal Documents (Ancient Near Eastern Literature - Genre), Law (Comparative Religion / History of Religion)

Anna Angelini, University of Zurich
Natural and Divine Law in Wisdom Traditions (20 min + 5 min discussion)
Tag(s): Law (Comparative Religion / History of Religion), Wisdom (Ancient Near Eastern Literature - Genre), Wisdom and Philosophical Literature (Early Jewish Literature - Jewish Pseudepigrapha)

Peter Altmann, Fuller Theological Serminary
The Pentateuch’s Divine Law as Positive Law in the Hellenistic Period? (20 min+ 5 min discussion)
Tag(s): 1 Maccabees (Biblical Literature - Deuterocanonical Works), 2 Maccabees (Biblical Literature - Deuterocanonical Works), Law and Politics (History of Interpretation / Reception History / Reception Criticism)

Lectures spring semester 2023


University of Zürich, Faculty of Theology, Kirchgasse 9, 8001 Zurich

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

18.00-20.00, Room 200

Professor Hindy Najman (University of Oxford)

Rethinking Nature in Ancient Judaism: Entanglement as a Mode of Vitality.


Thursday, March 30, 2023

15.30-17.30, Room 308

Professor Christophe Nihan (Universität Münster)

Ritual Rules in the Pentateuch as Legal Fiction and Authoritative Collection.


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

18.00-20.00, Room 200

Professor Reinhard Müller (Universität Göttingen)

Das Urdeuteronomium und sein historischer Ort. Grundzüge der Rekonstruktion.

For registration (or Zoom-link) contact:

Download: Lectures spring semester 2023_ERC (PDF, 167 KB)


IOSOT International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament


Short Paper Sessions, 9 August 2022, 14:30–18:00
Intersections of Law, Wisdom, and Justice

Chair: Peter Altmann, Room: KOL-G-204

Download Program Short-Paper-Session (PDF, 173 KB)




Lida Panov (University of Zurich)

Die Bedeutung der älteren Weisheit für die Theologisierung des Rechts


Dylan Johnson (University of Zurich)

Miscarriages of Justice: Widowed, Wronged, and Wise Women in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Legal History


Peter Altmann (University of Zurich)

Viewing Persian Authorization of Torah through a Wisdom Lens

16:00–16:30 Break

Phillip Lasater (University of Oxford)

Legal Poetics: How the Self Illuminates Law and Law Illuminates the Self


Anna Angelini (University of Zurich)

An Unbreakable Order: Cosmic Justice and Natural Law in Jeremiah 31


Matthias Hopf (University of Zurich)

The “Legal” Function of Holiness


Welcome Address, Divine Law Team

Reception in the Atrium (University of Zurich), supported by the
European Research Council



Conference: Royal Decrees, Jurisprudence, and Biblical Law in Hellenistic Times


European Association for Biblical Studies (EABS) Annual Conference Toulouse 2022, 4th-7th July 2022, EABS research unit: The Septuagint and the Cultural World of the Translators

Download Program-Flyer (PDF, 108 KB)


Session 1 – Tuesday 5th July 9.00-11.00 AM 

Chair: Romina Vergari, University of Florence 

Anna Angelini, University of Zurich and Romina Vergari, University of Florence (10 min)

Language and Identity in Imperial Contexts: The Greek Pentateuch in Ptolemaic Egypt
Dominik Markl, Pontifical Biblical Institute

The King as Pious Reader: Royal Ideology and the Concept of Law in Deuteronomy 17
Rodrigo Franklin De Sousa, Protestant Institute of Theology, Montpellier

The “Laws” on False Weights and Measures in the OT: A Comparative Look at MT, LXX, ANE, and Ancient Greek Texts
Matthias Hopf, University of Zurich

General Discussion 


Session 2 – Wednesday 6th July 9.00-11.00 AM

Chair: Anna Angelini, University of Zurich

From the ‘Divine Kiss’ to the Royal Decree of the Lagids: A Case of Vocabulary Transfer in the Greek Bible
Cécile Dogniez, French National Centre for Scientific Research 

LXX Exodus 22,4: Between the Alliance Code and Ptolemaic Laws
Camilla Recalcati, Catholic University of Louvain (UCL)

Did the Ptolemaic Imperial Politics Influence the Language of the Septuagint? (via Zoom)
Olga Gienini, Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina 

General Discussion


Session 3 – Thursday 7th July 9.00-11.00 AM

Chair: Romina Vergari, University of Florence

The Apocalyptic Role of the Law
Valérie Nicolet, Protestant Faculty of Theology of Paris 

Josephus, the Laws and the Law: Lexical Choices and Cultural Implications
Enrico Magnelli, University of Florence

The Law in Dialogue with the Graeco-Roman World: Philo of Alexandria’s De Specialibus Legibus
Francesca Pezza, Independent Scholar

Final discussion



June 15th-17th, 2022
Faculty of Theology, University of Zurich, Room 200 (2nd floor)
Kirchgasse 9, Zurich 8001

This international conference explores the origins of biblical notions of divine laws and God as a lawgiver. It also seeks to elucidate the impact of these ideas on religion and politics in ancient Judah/Persian Yehud. By contextualizing these developments against both the background of the ancient Near Eastern legal tradition and related developments within ancient Greek polities, this conference compares ancient discourse on “divine law” across time and between cultures.

Download Program-Flyer (PDF, 1 MB)


June 15th

09.00-09.10  Konrad Schmid (Zurich)

Welcome and Introduction


Sophie Démare-Lafont (Paris)

The Mesopotamian Legal Culture: A Secularization of the Divine
10.40-11.10 Coffee break


Dylan Johnson (Zurich)

Establishing Justice in the Land: The Real and Aspirational Roles of Ancient Near Eastern Lawgivers



Eckart Frahm (Yale)

Cuneiform Law Collections in their Political and Cultural Contexts
15.40-16.10 Coffee break


Bruce Wells (Austin)

How to Write a Law in Ancient Israel and Mesopotamia

June 16th


Dominik Markl (Rome)

The Monotheistic Elevation of Divine Law in Its Imperial Contexts


Coffee break


Lida Panov (Zurich)

Divine Law and the Activity of Priestly Scribes: Insights from the Book of Proverbs




Jonathan Vroom (Toronto)

Negotiating the Non-Negotiable: Interpretation, Innovation, and Ezra’s Use of Torah in Nehemiah 8 and Ezra 9–10
15.30-16.00 Coffee break


Peter Altmann (Zürich)

The Reception of God’s Torah in the Pentateuch: A Preliminary Study of How Later Sections of Numbers Understood Divine Law

June 17th


Konrad Schmid (Zürich)

How Moses Became a Lawgiver: The Formation of the Pentateuch and its Reorganization of Biblical Legislation


Coffee break


Angelos Chaniotis (Princeton)

How did Greek (and Hellenized) Gods Dictate and Enforce Norms?




Rebecca Van Hove (Groningen)

Oracles, Documents, and Laws in the Courts of Athens
15.30-16.00 Coffee break


Anna Angelini (Zürich)

Law and Cosmic Justice: Contexts and Meanings of Juridical Vocabulary in Presocratic Philosophy

* This conference is open to the public, though capacity is limited. We therefore ask those wishing to participate to RSVP with before June 1, 2022. A light lunch will be provided to all those registered for the conference.


Vortrag Prof. Dr. Ron Hendel

Montag, 30. Mai 2022, 16.00-18.00 Uhr

Prof. Dr. Ron Hendel (University of California, Berkeley): Cultural Memory and the Covenant Code: The Entanglement with Exodus
Weitere Informationen (PDF, 439 KB)


24.05.2022: How God Became a Lawgiver? (ISCS Guest Professor Online lecture Series 2022)


How God Became a Lawgiver?

The Place of the Torah in Ancient Near Eastern Legal History

24.5.2022, 15:00–16:30 (Beijing Time)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Konrad Schmid

HS 2021/2022: Vorlesungen Herbstsemester 2021–2022

Vorlesungen HS21 (PDF, 182 KB)

Dienstag, 5. Oktober 2021, 15.00-18.30 Uhr

Professor Eckart Otto (Universität München):
Rechtsanthropologische Voraussetzungen und Konsequenzen der Theologisierung von Recht in den Keilschriftrechten und des Rechts in der Hebräischen Bibel

Donnerstag, 2. Dezember 2021, 15.00-16.30 Uhr

Dr. Romina Vergari (Universität Florenz): Contrastive Lexicology and Biblical Exegesis: Paths of Exchange. The Case Study of The Nouns of Rules and Regulations in Biblical Hebrew Historical-narrative Language and their Greek Equivalents in the Septuagint

Dienstag, 1. Februar 2022, 16.00-17.30 Uhr

Professor James W. Watts (Syracuse University): Ritual, Divinity, and Law


17.09.2021: Deutschschweizer Sozietät Altes Testament Das Deuteronomium im Dialog mit Tora und Propheten

Deutschschweizer Sozietät Altes Testament

17. September 2021, Fribourg


Sozietät_Programm_2021 (PDF, 35 KB)


05.09.2021: Auftritt Scientifica Zürcher Wissenschaftstage

01.07.2021: Conférence: Religion et prééminence du droit dans le judaïsme antique

Download (PDF, 2 MB)

November, 5th, 2020, 17.00-18.30  (online)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID:  896 1270 0540
Passcode   :  189120