Study Guide

Book of Deuteronomy Justice and Judgment

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Justice and Judgment

Take a deep breath, because we're about to get technical for a second. Ready? Go.

There are at least two different types of laws in Deuteronomy: apodictic and casuistic. Wait, don't freak out. We're about to explain. Apodictic laws are pretty obvious and common-sense friendly like, say, "Thou shalt not kill." Casuistic laws, on the other hand, are based on actual cases. That means some event had to occur that demanded the creation of the law. Example: the Internet was invented, and suddenly we need laws about music piracy.

But things get messy sometimes. "Thou shalt not kill" seems simple enough, but what happens in cases of war or self-defense? Law is just never easy and the contradictions are everywhere in Deuteronomy.

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. Are there any laws in Deuteronomy that still hold today? Which of the laws are much more geared toward an agricultural society? Which are more universal?
  2. Who decides the outcome of cases in ancient Israel? God? Society? A judge? Moses?
  3. Are there any laws in Deuteronomy that are both apodictic and casuistic? Does the distinction really matter? Why or why not?
  4. Can we reconcile the contradictions between the various laws in Deuteronomy?

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