This book examines the doctrine of transgenerational punishment found in the Decalogue -that is, the idea that God punishes sinners vicariously and extends the punishment due them to three or four generations of their progeny. Though it was 'God-given' law, the unfairness of punishing innocent people merely for being the children or grandchildren of wrongdoers was clearly recognized in ancient Israel. A series of inner-biblical and post-biblical responses to the rule demonstrates that later writers were able to criticize, reject, and replace this problematic doctrine with the alternative notion of individual retribution. From this perspective, the formative canon is the source of its own renewal: it fosters critical reflection upon the textual tradition and sponsors intellectual freedom. To support further study, this book includes a valuable bibliographical essay on the distinctive approach of 'inner-biblical exegesis' showing the contributions of European, Israeli, and North American scholars. The volume opens new perspectives on current debates within the humanities about canonicity, textual authority, and authorship.

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