A deo lex? Law and Religion in Ancient Near Eastern Legislation

Keywords: Ancient Near Eastern law, Ancient Near Eastern religion, Ancient Near Eastern law collections, legal procedure, oath, River Ordeal


The ancient Near East is widely regarded as the “cradle of Western civilisation” and the birthplace of writing. As such, it was home to the earliest documented compendia we sometimes call “law collections”, and to some of the earliest records of institutionalised religion in human history. In the ancient Near East, these two major systems, official law and organised religion, did not usually intermingle. When they did, they compensated for one another, filling the gaps caused by the limitations of the other.