The Crown and the Courts: Separation of Powers in the Early Jewish Imagination

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Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
6.4 X 9.3 X 1.3 inches | 0.01 pounds

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About the Author

David C. Flatto, Professor of Law and of Jewish Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is a scholar of Jewish law and philosophy as well as comparative constitutional law and jurisprudence.


Was Josephus doing constitutional theory when he claimed that ancient Israel was a unique, theocratic polity, ruled by God and his laws, not men? This rich and provocative book deploys skillful close readings to argue that Josephus, the rabbis, and other important post-biblical Jewish thinkers made distinctive contributions to constitutional thought, developing an original account of separated powers. Flatto's book should be read as a prequel to Eric Nelson's scholarship showing how early modern Western political thought received rabbinic ideas.--Noah Feldman, author of Arab Winter: A Tragedy
Should justice be administered independently of political authority? Through detailed consideration of a wide range of ancient Jewish texts, David Flatto adds a necessary and relevant new dimension to current thinking about the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary, and the rule of law.--Timothy D. Lytton, author of Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food
The Crown and the Courts offers us a learned and cogent analysis of the ways in which biblical and post-biblical Jewish sources sought to establish the independence of law from various forms of political authority. Flatto's book is an important addition to the growing literature on rabbinic legal and political ideas.--Eric Nelson, author of The Theology of Liberalism