VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 29 CATEGORY: Social Sciences POSTED ON: 5/27/2010
Recourse to a cultic procedure could cut short an investigation; it might identify a "guilty" party but leave the administrative or economic problem unresolved. Since oral testimony was the most highly valued type of forensic evidence throughout the ancient Near East, it is not surprising that they, like the authors of Deuteronomy, seek to obtain a minimum level of such evidence before deciding certain cases.
The Cultic Versus the Forensic: Judahite and Mesopotamian Judicial Procedures in the First Millennium b.c.e. Bruce Wells Saint Joseph’s University Throughout most periods of ancient Near Eastern history, religious rituals frequently played an important role in the resolution of legal disputes that were brought to trial. It appears that judges would sometimes make use of them arbitrarily but often when they felt the avail- able evidence was insufﬁcient or at least too ambiguous to render a decisive verdict. The rituals—or cultic procedures, as I will call them—fall essentially into three categories, mem- orable for their alliteration: the oath, the oracle, and the ordeal. Each term is sometimes preceded by the word “judicial” to distinguish it from similar rituals that occurred outside the context of a trial. By means of these procedures, courts appealed to the divine realm to help decide the matter at hand. Some recent scholarship has observed changes in how and how often these procedures
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