THE PROBLEM OF EXOD. XXI 22-5 (IUS TALIONIS) BY BERNARD S. JACKSON Edinburgh "An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth" is said to be the most widely known principle of Biblical law, and to represent, in the popular mind, the whole tenor of Old Testament legislation. Scholars. have expended a sometimes disproportionate amount of effort on it 1), often in reaction to the criticisms of the Sermon on the Mount. The aim of this paper is narrower. It is concerned with a single text, Exod. xxi 22-5, and proposes to explain how and why it came to assume its present form. The difficulties presented by the passage are well-known. They involve both internal and external inconsistencies. A detailed reexam- ination of them might be superfluous 2), were it not for the fact that the most recent commentary on this collection (the "Book of the Covenant", Exod. xxi I-xxii 16, referred to as the Mishpatim) attempts to remove them, often by following rabbinic exegesis 3). That such an 1) Notably, E. GOITEIN, Das Vergeltungsprincip im biblischen und talmudischen Strafrecht, Halle 1891; D. W. AMRAM, "Retaliation and Compensation", JQR (NS). II 1911, pp. 191-211; J. HOROVITZ, "Auge
Vetus Testamentum – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1973
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