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The Ten Commandments: Who What When Where Why
For over two thousand years the Ten Commandments have been understood as the fundamental set of divine laws in the Hebrew Bible. Even for those who do not believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the Ten Commandments have retained their place as especially ancient, and especially important in the religious and communal life of Israel. In this lecture, Joel Baden will explain why this is, essentially, all wrong – and how we should understand, and grapple with, the true origins of these most famous words.
Co-sponsored by the Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and its Bible and the Ancient World Seminar Series
Prof. Joel Baden works widely in the field of Hebrew Bible, with special attention to the literary history of the Pentateuch. He is the author, most recently, of The Book of Exodus: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2019). His other books include J, E, and the Redaction of the Pentateuch (Mohr Siebeck, 2009); The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis (Yale University Press, 2012); The Promise to the Patriarchs (Oxford University Press, 2013); The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero (HarperOne, 2013); Reconceiving Infertility: Biblical Perspectives on Procreation and Childlessness (with Candida Moss; Princeton University Press, 2015); and Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby (with Candida Moss; Princeton University Press, 2017). He is the co-editor of the volumes The Strata of the Priestly Writings: Contemporary Debate and Future Directions (TVZ, 2009), Sibyls, Scriptures, and Scrolls (Brill, 2017), and The Oxford Handbook of the Pentateuch (with Jeffrey Stackert; Oxford University Press, 2021).
Current projects include editing The Routledge Handbook of Marginalization in the Bible and a special issue of the journal Religions devoted to the Hebrew Bible, race, and racism, along with writing forthcoming commentaries on Deuteronomy (IECOT), Exodus (Anchor), and Lamentations (Oxford).
Prof. Baden has published numerous scholarly articles and essays. He has also written widely for a popular audience, in venues such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, Slate, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, CNN, and The Daily Beast.