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Obwohl die Institution der alttestamentlichen Asylstdte in ihrer Funktion klar um rissen scheint, nmlich im Fall der unabsichtlichen

Ttung eines Menschen Schutz vor dem Blutrcher zu bieten, ergeben sich bei nherer Textbetrachtung doch etliche Pro blemanzeigen. Nicht nur differieren die entsprechenden Texte in den Bchern Exodus , Numeri, Deuteronomium und Josua erheblich voneinander, sondern es stellt sich auch die Frage, warum nicht Bestimmungen erlassen wurden, die eine voreilige Blu trache verhindern und damit das komplexe System der Asylstdte berflssig machen, die zudem durch ihre numerische Limitierung und geografischen Distanzen kaum den ih nen zugedachten Zweck erfllen konnten. Diese Studie versucht, auf methodisch gesi cherter Basis den fiktional-programmatischen Anteil der entsprechenden Gesetze h erauszuarbeiten und auf diese Weise plausibel zu machen, dass die alte Instituti on der Schutzsuche und Asylie am heiligen Ort unter dem Einfluss anderer Themen und Aussageintentionen geraten ist, die hauptschlich mit der Funktion heiliger Or te, den mit ihnen verbundenen Interessen und mit geografischen Punkten zu tun ha ben, die das gesamte beanspruchte Land abstecken. Auf diese Weise kann die Struk turlinie evident gemacht werden, die von einem Text zum nchstfolgenden fhrt. Die f iktionalen Textanteile ermglichen dabei nicht nur die Kanon-Werdung der Texte, si e werden auch zu einer Realitt, welche die Inkommensurabilitt des menschlichen Leb ens als einen nicht hintergehbaren Wert des alttestamentlichen Zeugnisses hervor hebt. The book examines the laws in the Pentateuch that govern trial-court witnesses a nd their testimony (for example, the requirement of at least two witnesses and t he prohibition of false testimony). Through a detailed comparison of these laws with Neo-Babylonian trial records, the author proposes new solutions to longstan ding interpretive problems posed by the biblical texts. This is the first study of pentateuchal law to make such extensive use of this Neo-Babylonian material. The book argues that these records from Mesopotamia shed important light on the biblical laws and demonstrate how rules, like those contained in the pentateucha l codes, may have operated within an ancient Near Eastern judicial system. The f eatures shared by the biblical and Neo-Babylonian material include legal termino logy, evidence requirements, a preference for empirical evidence over religious rituals for resolving disputes, and the treatment of wrongful prosecution. The a uthor concludes that these features are more pronounced in the Neo-Babylonian th an any other period, although they may have developed over time and found their way into the biblical codes even before then. The book contains fresh analysis o f a number of Neo-Babylonian as well as biblical texts. The book focusses on the origin and transformation of the priestly festival cale ndar. Since the epoch-making work of Julius Wellhausen at the end of the ninetee nth century the differences between the various ancient Israelite festival calen dars (JE [Ex 23:14-19; 34:18-26], D [Deut 16:1-17], P [Ex 12; Lev 23; Num 28-29] ) have often been explained in terms of a gradual evolution, which shows an incr easing historicisation, denaturalisation and ritualisation. The festivals were i n Wellhausen's view gradually detached from agricultural conditions and celebrat ed more and more at fixed points in the year. This study tries to show that the changes in the priestly festival calendar reflect a conscious effort to adapt th e ancient Israelite festival calendar to the semi-annual layout of the Babylonia n festival year. The ramifications of the change only come to the fore after a c areful study of the agricultural conditions of ancient Israel - and Mesopotamia - makes clear that passover and the festival of unleavened bread were originally celebrated in the second month of the year. The first month of the year envisag ed by the priestly festival calendar for the celebration of passover and the fes tival of unleavened bread in turn mirrors the date of one of the two semi-annual Babylonian New Year festivals. The two Babylonian New Year festivals were celeb rated exactly six months apart at the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. In order to adapt the ancient Israelite festival calendar to the Babylonian scheme with two New Year festivals a year, the date of passover and the festival of unleavened bread had to be moved up by one month. The consequences for the origin of passov er, the festival of unleavened bread, the festival of weeks and the festival of

huts are charted and the relations between the various ancient Israelite festiva l calendars are determined anew.