The Old Testament and The Code of Hammurabi
To write an essay on the differences of the two texts given in Oliver Johnson's book presents quite a challenge since both texts are so different and yet have some over-all similarities. Where to start, and how to present these differences are two perplexing questions. I will, however, present in the following manner: I will describe the characteristics of the Old Testament, then contrast the Old Testament to the Code of Hammurabi and then discuss the encompassing similarities.
The Old Testament
The Old Testament is a narrative giving the history and laws of the small Jewish nation of Israel. It presents the theme of monotheism, the Jewish belief in one God, and strengthens their belief in a close relationship between their God and "his" people. (Johnson 31) The relationship between God and the Jewish people is portrayed in every book of the Old Testament.
In every book of the Old Testament prophets communicated directly with God, and received the laws presented in the Old Testament. These laws are given rather subtly and are presented in a way that the reader discovers the laws through some thought and pondering. The examples of real characters bring to life the laws of the Old Testament and how they apply to daily life. The reader is to read the story or experiences of the different characters presented in the different books and ask him or herself how it applies and what God wants to be learned. Though these laws are presented somewhat vaguely in the text that Johnson gives; Johnson did not present all the text of the Old Testament, and having studied the Old Testament myself, I know that in the book of Leviticus Mosaic laws are given in much more detail and clarity, than in the texts that Johnson includes.
The laws of the Old Testament are philosophical in nature. The stories and laws give answers to the general questions of humanity: Where did we come from and how were we created? What is the goal of life? How are we to act? Who is control of the universe? Etc… This is the reason the Old Testament has survived as a religious and historical document throughout the ages.
The code of Hammurabi
The first thing anyone will notice with the Code of Hammurabi is the detail presented in all of the laws given. In contrast to the laws of the Old Testament, the Code of Hammurabi covers...