Thursday, June 21, 2007

David on Law and Violence from a Talmudic Legal Perspective

Joseph (Yossi) E. David, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has posted the abstract for a recent article, 'The One Who is More Violent Prevails' – Law and Violence from a Talmudic Legal Perspective. It appeared in the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence. The article itself is not posted, but citation information and the author's contact information are here. Here's the abstract:
How are we to distinguish between law and violence? On what grounds is the former legitimized while the latter is condemned? This modern question sheds light on the essential concepts of law and order and their social value. My task in this paper is to trace the roots of this question in the Jewish jurisprudential tradition by focusing on a unique norm, established sometime during the 5th to the 6th century, in which violence become a legitimized norm when a case could not be determined by means of official legal procedure. This survey shows that while ancient sources legitimized this norm of extra-legal violence, medieval thinkers redefined it and neutralized it, reduced it to an economic procedure or even explicated interesting stances regarding the honor and stability of legal institutions.