Shorter Reviews and Notices -- Land Tenure and the Biblical Jubilee: Uncovering Hebrew Ethics through the Sociology of Knowledge by Jeffrey A. Fager

Article excerpt

FAGER'S STUDY draws from an earlier dissertation project (1987) to interact with the sociology of knowledge that he trusts to "uncover Hebrew ethics" [his subtitle] and to display "conscious and perhaps unconscious attitudes toward the moral life" (p. 13). He reconstructs what he thinks might have been the evolutionary trajectory of the full body of jubilee legislation, beginning with premonarchic provisions for "debt sale," or occasional royal debt amnesty proclamations (p. 25), culminating in a final redaction by "the priests" during the exile, where the vision for giving the poor a new start was enlarged by the need to provide for the exiles' return. Fager considers Ezekiel's vision of 47:13--48:29 to be a critical alternative to that of "the priests." The author never explains what "priests" were doing in Babylon. He must mean redactors with a "priestly" bias, but that is hardly a sociological category.

The moral meaning of the system is broken down according to Mannheim's categories of the objective, the expressive, and the documentary. …